The Indian Army has awarded a contract to the Indian Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for the supply of 100 howitzer artillery guns, after failing to acquire a single howitzer in the last 20 years following the Bofors scandal in 1987.
Indian Defence Minister of state Pallam Raju was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying that a total of 100 artillery guns will be manufactured and the orders are placed for the 155mm 52 calibre howitzer model, which will be developed on the basis of Transfer of Technology (ToT) by Bofors.
The Army’s repeated attempts to procure different types of howitzers have failed due to various political reasons in the country in the last two decades.
Under the first phase of its Rs200bn ($4bn) Field Artillery Rationalization programme, the Army is planning to acquire a total of 400 towed howitzers, along with 180 self-propelled and 145 ultra-light versions to upgrade its artillery divisions.
Raju said that the indigenous development programme of the howitzers would continue alongside trials by the OFB and within a specific time frame, the guns would be delivered to the Army.
The programme will not have any impact on procurement of ultra light howitzers, self-propelled howitzers and towed howitzers, and the bids will be open to all, including foreign defence equipment manufacturers, Raju added.
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The army had initially planned to field at least one new artillery variant into its service by March 2012, but is still waiting for the formal induction.
The army is expected to acquire up to 4000 howitzers in total to equip its 185 tube artillery regiments under the artillery modernisation programme.
OFB has supplied several howitzer spare parts, including muzzle break, loading trough, recoil system, barrel, and breach mechanism and more recently the elevating and traversing cylinders, which are used for gun laying to the army.