Indo-US weapon deals to help boost artillery power


The Rs 2,900-crore Indian deal to procure M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzers (ULH) from the US through the foreign military sales (FMS) route will lead to investments of over $200 million under offset requirements.

This deal and other gun upgrades will boost the Indian Army’s firepower, which is critically short of guns.

“This envisages investments in approximately 40 Indian defence suppliers across the country as well as an offer to establish an Assembly Integration & Test facility for the weapon system in India in partnership with an Indian industrial company,” John Kelly of BAE Systems told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, India’s indigenously upgraded Bofors gun ‘Dhanush’ is all set for induction with all evaluations successfully completed. The upgrade was done by the Ordinance Factory Board based on the design of the original Bofors gun acquired in the 1980’s and is 80 per cent indigenous. The army has already placed an order for 114 guns and expressed interest for 300 more.

A third process for upgrade of 300 of the Army’s 130mm guns to 155mm by the private sector is ongoing. Several companies have been given guns for testing and upgrade and user evaluation is likely to take place by year end, industry sources informed.

Last November, the Defence Acquisition Council approved the tender for 814 artillery guns for higher calibre guns and the process has been initiated.

The Army’s Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan formulated in 1999 envisages inducting around 3,000 guns of various types to equip its 220 artillery regiments. No new gun has been acquired since the 1980s, when 400 Bofors guns were procured from Sweden.