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
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