The BAE Bofors 155mm gun is back in thecompetition for a record fourth time for a multi-billion dollar heavyartillery gun order from the Indian Army.
BAESystems, the owner of Bofors, has said that that it has“submitted to the Indian ministry of defence’s latest RFI(request for information) for towed 155mm howitzers, following previoustenders which were cancelled because of the inability of otherpotential suppliers to meet the tender conditions.”
Along with its Indian partner, Mahindraand Mahindra, the company has offered a version of the FH77 B05 155mmhowitzer. It says “a significant proportion will be manufactured inIndia to meet the specific needs of the Indian Army.”
Inthe last trial, which was cancelled by A.K. Antony’s defence ministryin July, the Bofors gun and ST Kinetics’s iFH 2000 were the only gunsin the competition.
Armysources said the trial was cancelled because STK’s gun was notcalibrated to fire Indian ammunition. But STK sources say they were notgiven the time sought to re-calibrate their weapon for the summer trialin the Rajasthan desert.
Thetender was cancelled because STK’s disqualification made BAE Systemsthe only vendor and the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) lays down thatprocurement must be based on competition, defence ministry sources said.
Theguns — the Bofors GH 77 B05 and STK’s iFH 2000 — that the companies hadbrought for the trials are still in India. The cancellation of thetender pushed the Indian army’s field artillery modernisationprogramme, already behind schedule by 10 years, at least two more yearsbehind.
AndrewGallagher managing director and chief executive of BAE Systems Indiasaid, “BAE Systems is confident that the FH77 B05 is the best heavytowed howitzer in the world today and meets the requirements of theIndian Army”. The Indian Army used the earlier version of the howitzerin the 1999 Kargil war.
Thearmy plans to buy and produce a total of 1,580 guns of the155mm/52caliber category. For 23 years now, the army has not added asingle big gun to its arsenal since the Bofors FH77B02, contracted bythe Rajiv Gandhi government, raised a row over kickbacks.