Probe stalls upgrade, Army to get new guns
BY: Indian Express
The Indian Army is set to order new artillery guns worth approximately Rs 1,000 crore as plans to upgrade existing guns have been stalled after a probe was initiated against the Israeli firm Soltam which had been awarded the contract.
The Army has issued a Request for Information, which will be followed by formal global tenders, to acquire new 155 mm/42 calibre towed guns to fill vital gaps in its artillery arsenal. The Army is planning to acquire close to 400 guns at the earliest.
A contract for upgrading the older generation M46 guns to modern 155 mm/45 calibre standards had been signed with Soltam earlier. Soltam is partially owned by arms agent Sudhir Choudhary, wanted by the CBI in several arms procurement cases.
While Soltam has already upgraded 180 Russian M46 guns, further orders have been stalled, forcing the Army to place orders for new guns.
The Army’s artillery modernisation programme, which is years behind schedule with scandals hitting most defence vendors like Bofors, Denel and lately Singapore Technologies, envisages a force of more than 500 of the 155mm/45 cal towed guns. While the Army has not received even a single new gun in the past two decades since the Bofors scandal, there is a line of thought that the stringent requirements laid out for new guns has come in the way of purchases.
As a result, all tenders floated by the Army in recent years to acquire new guns have come to a naught.
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