Army places orders for 100 howitzers



New Delhi: The Indian Army has placed orders for 100 artillery guns with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) after having failed to acquire even a single howitzer in over two decades following the Bofors scandal.

The Army has issued several tenders for procuring different types of howitzers in the last two decades but has failed to do so due to some problem or the other.

"The Army has placed orders with the OFB for procuring one hundred 155mm 52 calibre howitzers and this will be developed on the basis of Transfer of Technology (ToT) done by Bofors," Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju told PTI here.

He said indigenous development of the howitzers would continue alongside trials by the OFB and within a specific time frame, the guns would be delivered to the Army.

The Minister said this indigenous development programme was not likely to have any impact on procurement of several types of gun systems such as 145 Ultra Light Howitzers, 180 Self-Propelled Howitzers and 400 Towed Howitzers through global tenders.

The OFB has been producing major components of the gun, such as barrel, breach mechanism, muzzle break, loading trough, recoil system along with the elevating and traversing cylinders, and supplying these to the army as spares.

As part of its over Rs 20,000 crore artillery modernisation plan, the Army is looking at inducting several types of howitzers through inter-governmental pacts and global tenders.

Army Chief Gen VK Singh had promised last year that at least one type of artillery gun would be inducted into the Service in 2011-12 but it is still waiting for it.

The Bofors 155mm howitzers were the focus of a kickback scandal targeting former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the late 1980s, but the artillery gun performed remarkably in the Kargil war.

PTI