2 decades after Bofors, India all set for artillery purchases

Last Updated: Friday, March 19, 2010 - 21:23

New Delhi: Remaining without a single
purchase of artillery guns since Bofors scandal broke out two
decades ago, India has lined up series of procurements of such
weapons to bridge the growing gap in the operational
preparedness of its Army.

Among the guns it plans to buy soon include towed, wheeled
self-propelled, tracked self-propelled and ultra light
howitzers.

Defence Ministry sources said these acquisitions are at
various stages of procurement and these guns would strengthen
the artillery arm of the 1.13 million strong Army.

While it has scheduled trials for two such weapons in the
coming months, the Defence Ministry has ramped up its bid to
procure 145 ultra light howitzers for deploying in mountainous
terrains from the US.

The Obama Administration has notified the US Congress of
its intention to sell the howitzers through the Foreign
Military Sales (FMS) route.

The FMS sales to India comes at a time when the country is
planning to schedule a trial of Singapore`s ST Kinetics
`Pegasus` gun in the next couple of months.

Though the trials, on a `no cost-no commitment` basis, was
to happen last year, it got shelved after the Defence Ministry
blacklisted ST Kinetics along with six other companies after
the CBI named them in the corruption case against former
Ordnance Board chief Sudipto Ghosh.

But the Defence Ministry changing its policy to allow the
trial, but not to award the contract before the CBI case was
complete, provided an opportunity to the Army to complete
testing the gun and await the outcome of the corruption case
against Ghosh.

The Defence Ministry had issued a global tender to 10
firms for the 155mm/39 calibre ultra light guns, but only ST
Kinetics had responded with an offer.

Simultaneously, the US too came forward with a proposal to
supply BAE`s M777A2 guns to India and the process of
procurement is in its final stages.

Sources said apart from the ultra light howitzers, the
trails for the wheeled self-propelled guns would commence next
month in which Slovakian firm Konstrukta and German company
Rhienmetall would compete for the supply of 180 guns to India.
India had issued a global tender for the 155mm/52 calibre
wheeled self-propelled guns and only the Slovakian and German
firms were shortlisted out of the five which received the
tenders.

Another trial for the 155mm/52calibre towed guns in which
ST Kinetics and United Kingdom`s BAE Systems would compete is
to take place in a couple of months, after the Singapore firm
sought time to bring its guns for the test following damage to
the one it was bringing to India during loading.

Under the global tender issued for the towed guns, India
had projected that it would buy 400 of them off-the-self from
the selected firm and another 780 would be manufactured in
India through technology transfer to one of the Ordnance
Factories.

PTI



First Published: Friday, March 19, 2010 - 21:23

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