Fresh attempt to modernize artillery; govt order howitzers and guns
May 21: One of the largest armed forces in the world seems to be in compromising position due to its depleting artillery. Much of the worries have arisen due to various ‚??scams‚?? and the continuing investigations are still going on in many such scandals. Keeping that aside now defence ministry is trying to focus on a delayed attempt of enforcing the forces with the latest technology.
In its latest attempt, the concerned ministry has issued two requests for proposal (RfP) to overseas vendors for 180 155mm/52 caliber wheeled howitzers and 100 tracked self-propelled (SP) guns.
Twenty seven foreign vendors have been shortlisted for wheeled howitzers while as 17 manufactures from Sweden, Singapore, France, Spain, Austria, Finland, Israel and Italy for tracked howitzers. Officials engaged with the procurement have clarified that the eventual contract is to include transfer of technology to locally build the howitzers.
Till now Army‚??s several attempts to enhance battlefield effectiveness have so far proven to be ineffective. Army operates around 14 different caliber guns of which most modern platform is the FH 77B 155mm/39 cal Bofors howitzer, 410 of which were acquired in the 1980s to equip around 20 regiments and have since become outdated. Out of them only 370 are serviceable because Bofors guns suffer from lack of spares. Most of the spares of unserviceable lot have been to keep others operational.
Army officials blame lack of equipment planning as the reason behind the delayed artillery modernisation programme, thus raising serious operational implications.
Artillery modernization programme of the armed forces always remained a concern due to numerous scams from time to time.
While procuring AK-47s for its armed forces in 2002, government purchased outdated pieces from a Bulgarian firm known for its terrorist links. Before that corruption scandal surrounding the Bofors gun created biggest hurdle not to talk of numerous others unveiled as the famous ‚??Tehelka scandal‚??.
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