The Indian defense ministry is expected to issue the request forproposals (RFP) for the third time for 140 wheeled guns within the nexttwo weeks.
Trials will be held for the same guns that participated in earlierrounds to evaluate performance in extreme hot and cold conditions inthe harsh desert terrains of Rajasthan and Ladakh. Firing rate andcommand and control will be assessed.
Bidders being named include Kerametal of Slovakia, with its Zuzana gun, and Germany’s Rheinmetall RWG-52.
The latest development, however, comes amid ongoing confusion andallegations regarding so-called “blacklisting” of some contenders inthe past (Aerospace DAILY, April 2). For instance, SingaporeTechnologies Kinetics was not invited to participate in the RFP afterbeing named in a report related to an Ordnance Factories Board (OFB)scandal. But Rheinmetall, which was rejected on another tender forbeing involved in the same OFB report, was called to participate intrials for bi-modular charges in Pokhran, and now for the wheeled guns.
Rheinmetall recently denied any wrongdoing regarding the acquisition ofdefense contracts in India, saying it had broken no rules. ARheinmetall spokesman says it has not received any notification as tothe basis of the corruption allegations.
“With regard to future projects, as well, the company is eager to clear this matter up,” a Rheinmetall representative says.
Armed with 155-mm. ordnance, the 48-ton Rheinmetall Wheeled Gun(RWG)-52 is designed to be a mobile 6x6 artillery system for flexiblefire-support operations. The vehicle has a maximum road speed of 80kph. (50 mph.), and can reach speeds of up to 70 kph. when operatingoff-road. Its strategic range is 700 km. (435 mi.) and its tacticalrange is 300 km. A built-in tire pressure management system furtherenhances the vehicle’s off-road performance, according to a Rheinmetallspokesman.
Its autonomous turret is equipped with the L/52 Rheinmetall gun used inGermany’s PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer in service with the armedforces of Germany, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands, the latter havingdeployed it in combat operations in Afghanistan.
While BAE Systems’ Archer does not fit the Indian army requirements forthe wheeled gun bid, the company has submitted a response to the latestrequest for information for towed 155-mm. howitzers, following previoustenders that were canceled due to the inability of other potentialsuppliers to meet the requirements.
The company’s offer will be based on the FH77 B05 155-mm. howitzer, anda significant number will be manufactured in India to meet the specificneeds of the Indian army.
BAE representative Guy Douglas told AVIATION WEEK earlier that the155-mm. FH77B05 howitzer was the best choice for India since it hasproven itself in previous trials. “It is the big sister of the FH77 B02that performed well in the Kargil conflict, so its pedigree isunquestionable,” according to the company spokesman.
Meanwhile, BAE’s M777 ultra lightweight howitzer is now in the U.S. foreign military sales process for purchase by India.