Mod­erni­sa­tion and Ac­qui­si­tion Plans

We need speedy in­duc­tion of 155mm/52-cal­i­bre how­itzers to re­place the present equip­ment. Our re­quire­ments be­ing so large, the re­quired num­bers would not be avail­able even in the world mar­ket at short no­tice and there­fore in­duc­tion it­self will be a long-dr

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor

We need speedy in­duc­tion of 155mm/52 cal­i­bre how­itzers to re­place the present equip­ment.

AS PART OF ITS Ar­tillery Mod­erni­sa­tion Plan, the Army is look­ing at in­duct­ing sev­eral types of how­itzers through in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal pacts and global ten­ders. The last ma­jor ac­qui­si­tion of towed gun-how­itzers was that of 400 pieces of 39-cal­i­bre 155mm FH-77B how­itzers with a range of 30 km from Bo­fors of Swe­den in 1987, which got em­broiled in po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy. This gun proved its met­tle in the Kargil con­flict. Af­ter about 25 years of ne­glect dur­ing which the 100mm and 122mm field guns of Rus­sian ori­gin and the in­dige­nously de­vel­oped and man­u­fac­tured 75/24 how­itzer joined the long list of ob­so­lete equip­ment, the Army still awaits the pro­cure­ment of about 1,580 how­itzers of 155mm, 52-cal­i­bre. Out of these, 400 are to be pro­cured out­right and 1,180 man­u­fac­tured in­dige­nously with trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy (ToT).

Tri­als of a mod­i­fied Nex­ter TRA­JAN 155mm/52-cal­i­bre TGS and El­bit’s re­fur­bished, lighter ATHOS 2052 how­itzer were to be held dur­ing May 2013 as a part of sum­mer tri­als in the western Ra­jasthan desert us­ing the Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) man­u­fac­tured ord­nance. These tests will be fol­lowed by winter fir­ings and the se­lec­tion of one sys­tem by the Ar­tillery Direc­torate to pro­ceed to cost ne­go­ti­a­tions (the es­ti­mated bud­get be­ing $2 bil­lion). These tri­als con­sti­tute the fifth at­tempt to se­lect a suit­able 155mm how­itzer for the In­dian Army.

Nex­ter is now col­lab­o­rat­ing with In­dian pri­vate de­fence con­trac­tor Larsen and Toubro (L&T) while El­bit has part­nered with the Kalyani Group, the world’s largest forg­ings man­u­fac­turer head­quar­tered in Pune. The Kalyani Group, bet­ter known as Bharat Forge, af­ter one of its more suc­cess­ful sub­sidiaries has ac­quired Ruag’s en­tire ar­tillery man­u­fac­tur­ing unit in Switzer­land and has set it up in Pune in 2012.

Se­nior Ar­tillery of­fi­cers point out that Field Ar­tillery Ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion Plan (FARP), which was mooted in 1999 en­vis­aged

` 5,000-7,000 crore pro­cure­ment of 3,0003,200 of as­sorted cal­i­bre how­itzers by the end of the Army’s Four­teenth Five Year Fi­nance Plan in 2027. This plan has been to­tally wrecked be­cause of in­or­di­nate de­lays in de­ci­sion-mak­ing and pro­cure­ment.

The FARP had en­vi­sion im­port­ing, and in­dige­nously de­velop and build how­itzers by tech­nol­ogy trans­fer agree­ments to pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor joint ven­tures (JVs) to equip the more than 200 ar­tillery reg­i­ments that re­main piv­otal to the Army’s ‘ma­noeu­vre by fire’ of­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties and re­vised war-fight­ing doc­trine.

Short­ages of suit­able equip­ment ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing long-range fire­power will ad­versely af­fect the Army as it faces the prospect of equip­ping two newly cre­ated moun­tain di­vi­sions in north-eastern In­dia. China’s rapid mil­i­tari­sa­tion in Ti­bet is wor­ry­ing the mil­i­tary. Rais­ing an ad­di­tional Moun­tain Strike Corps, com­pris­ing three di­vi­sions by 2017—along­side pos- sibly a fourth ar­tillery di­vi­sion for de­ploy­ment along the 4,057-km-long un­re­solved Chi­nese bor­der—fur­ther com­pli­cates the Army’s equip­ment short­ages.

The FARP’s pro­posed ac­qui­si­tions in­clude: 1,580 new 155mm/52-cal­i­bre towed gun sys­tems (TGS); 814 mounted 155mm/52-cal­i­bre plat­forms; 145 offthe-shelf 155mm/39-cal­i­bre ULHs. The fi­nance plan also en­vis­ages the out­right pur­chase of 100, 155mm/52-cal­i­bre self­pro­pelled tracked (SPT) how­itzer and 180 self-pro­pelled wheeled ( SPW) how­itzers with an­other 120 to be built lo­cally un­der a tech­nol­ogy trans­fer agree­ment.

One hun­dred and eighty pieces of 130mm M46 Rus­sian medium-guns have been suc­cess­fully “up-gunned” to 155mm cal­i­bre with ord­nance sup­plied by Soltam

The Army still awaits the pro­cure­ment of about 1,580 how­itzers of 155mm, 52-cal­i­bre. Out of these, 400 are to be pro­cured out­right and 1,180 man­u­fac­tured in­dige­nously with ToT.

of Is­rael. The new bar­rel length of 45-cal­i­bre has en­hanced the range of the gun to about 40 km with ex­tended range am­mu­ni­tion. How­ever, the project for man­u­fac­ture of am­mu­ni­tion which was to be done by the IAI of Is­rael has been de­layed as the firm has been black­listed.

In­dia has an­other 300, 130mm M 46 guns. In early 2012, the Army ap­proached the Ord­nance Fac­tory Board, Kalyani Group, Larsen and Toubro (L&T), Punj Lloyd and Tata Power Strate­gic En­gi­neer­ing Di­vi­sion (SED) with a pro­posal to retro­fit the M46s to 155mm/45-cal­i­bre stan­dards un­der the De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure’s (DPP) ‘Buy and Make (In­dian)’ cat­e­gory. Un­der this dis­pen­sa­tion, lo­cal pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies are el­i­gi­ble to for­mu­late JVs with for­eign man­u­fac­tur­ers to de­velop and build weapon sys­tems for the In­dian mil­i­tary. All four pri­vate com­pa­nies sub­mit­ted their project fea­si­bil­ity re­ports on the M46 retro­fit to the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) in March 2012, in re­sponse to its restricted re­quest for in­for­ma­tion (RFI) dis­patched to them ear­lier. They now await the re­quest for pro­posal (RFP).

It is now learnt that when the Bo­fors 155mm how­itzers were pro­cured in 1987, trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy had taken place, and it has now been re­vealed that the OFB which had been sit­ting on these de­signs for the past 25 years, on be­ing coaxed by the Army have now ac­cepted to pro­duce pro­to­types of 155mm/39-cal­i­bre and 45-cal­i­bre guns for tri­als by the Army.

M777 Light Towed How­itzer

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