India to boost up army with Howitzer
With a view to further strengthening the army equipment, India on Monday invited request for proposal for the procurement of 140 ultra-light Howitzer what will cost a massive Rs 10,000 crore.
Along with these artillery modernisation programme, if army’s proposal for acquiring 197 light helicopters worth Rs 4,000 crore comprising the Rs 42,000 crore project for 126 multi-role fighters coupled with several Navy and IAF procurements that are in the pipeline, are sanctioned, no doubt global weapon suppliers will be falling each other to grab the tender.
Since the year 1986 when the infamous Rs 1,437 crore Bofors deal under which 410 field Howitzers were purchased, there has been no fresh induction of artillery guns.
After being much delayed, the Army is now planning to expedite the process of procurement artillery and soon likely to issue fresh global tenders for procurement of the artillery first for the 155 mm 52 caliber guns and then 155 advanced guns.
“Even as I am interacting with you, the Request for Proposal, RFP for procurement of the ultra-light Howitzer guns has been issued.” said General Kapoor, the Army chief while announcing the procurement on the eve of the 60th Army Day.
The RFP was sent on Jan. 14 to Singapore Technologies and BAE Systems.
“The Army also plans to issue fresh global tenders for procurement of the 155mm 52 caliber guns shortly and for 155 advanced guns in a month or so,” General Kapoor said.
Ultra high Howitzer is preferred over conventional heavy artillery guns by most of the developed countries because of its lightweight it is easy to transport via air to the battlefield.
Although Gen Kapoor did not specifically told about the particulars, sources said the Army was planning to purchase 140 ultra-light howitzers for around Rs 2,900 crore, 400 towed guns for Rs 4,000 crore and 180 wheeled self-propelled guns for Rs 4,700 crore.
In 2001, India through a global tender, succeeded in purchasing 400 towed 155mm 52-calibre artillery guns worth more than 1.5 billion US dollars. Later the tender process was followed by licenced production in India.
But the process was scrapped prior to this year after an unprecedented four rounds of consecutive trials from 2002 to 2006 during which the Bofors gun come out on top in field trials than the guns of Israeli firm Soltam and the now-blacklisted South African Denel company following charges of influencing the Indian Defence Ministry in arms procurement.
Therefore the only remaining players were the UK’s BAe systems with bofors guns and Israel’s Soltam Company.
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