FAQs on Bofors guns and graft row
* What is the Bofors scandal?
In the late 1980s, there were media reports of Swedish arms producer AB Bofors having paid Rs.65 crore (approximately $12 million) as kickbacks to top Indian politicians, including then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, and officials through an Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrrocchi for selling artillery guns to the Indian Army.
* What the Bofors deal all about?
India's defence ministry had bought howitzers for its army's artillery units from Swedish manufacturer AB Bofors in March 1986 in a Rs.1,500 crore ($285 million) deal.
* What is a Bofors gun?
It is a 155mm 39calibre field howitzer with a range of 25-30 km. The weapon system is operated by a six-member crew and can fire at the rate of 10 rounds per minute. The howitzer can be towed at a speed of 70 kmph, while the self-propelled version moves at eight kmph.
* What was the quality of the gun?
The Bofors howitzers were used during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan and proved to be effective in pounding enemy-held positions with great accuracy.
* What is the impact of the Bofors scandal?
The Bofors episode had led to India reducing the order for the guns from the originally planned 1,500 to 410. Since then, India has not bought a single artillery gun, even though these are badly required by the army. The proposals of the Indian Army to buy at least four types of guns are still stuck at various stages of procurement.
* What's the future for the Bofors guns?
India had got the technical knowhow from the Swedish manufacturer to produce the guns within the country. But that plan too stood suspended for 25 years. Only recently, the government asked the Ordnance Factory Board to upgrade the Bofors technology and produce the guns to meet the army's needs.
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