Army to acquire home-made howitzers
The defence ministry has sanctioned acquisition of 144 home-made 155 mm howitzer guns which will undergo trials with the Army later this year.
The guns have been developed by ordnance factory in Jabalpur based on the technology transferred from Bofors that originally sold the guns to Indian Army in a controversial deal signed in the 1980s.
Because of the controversy associated with Bofors guns, officials at the defence ministry and ordnance factories did not look at the technology transfer agreement for years, though there is no word on why the technology transfer agreement was not studied for years.
The document was finally scrutinised only when the Army acutely felt the need to have new howitzer following several failed attempts to buy new guns in the last decade.
Defence Minister A K Antony said the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared a proposal for production of 144 indigenous 155mm guns for the Army based on Bofors technology.
The winter trials are likely to take place in December, while summer trials are scheduled for June.
The minister hoped that these trials would be successful so that after 30 years, India could have upgraded 155mm guns. A defence ministry official stated that the guns performed well so far when fired in ordnance factory testing ranges but only user trials with the Army would ultimately prove its induction readiness.
The Defence Minister had recently been to Jabalpur to review the progress in making the guns. The Army has not been able to induct even a single new piece of artillery gun in the last 25 years despite several attempts.
Even a government-to-government deal to purchase ultra 155 mm (39 calibre) ultra light weight howitzer did not materialise after trial reports revealing the guns shortfall on several parameters were leaked.