Finally, Mountain Guns for India | The Diplomat In late November, the Indian Armyâ€™s artillery breathed a sigh of relief when the government gave clearance to a Rs. 15,570 crore ($2.5 billion) project for mountain artillery guns. The news came just a month after the Indian government cleared 80,000 crore worth of defense project deals. The guns to be purchased are 155 mm/52 caliber with a range of 40 km and will be part of the â€œBuy & Make Indiaâ€ program. At present, there is a plan to acquire 814 guns for the Indian Army. While 100 guns would be acquired off the shelf, the remainder of the 714 guns would be made in India. This is a major boost to the Indian Armyâ€™s artillery, which has not acquired guns since the Boforsâ€™ scam in the 1980s. India had already cancelled the acquisition of self-propelled 155 mm/52 caliber guns on the grounds that they failed to meet requirements. The only progress that was made in artillery was an upgrade to the Russian 130 mm/39 caliber M46 guns to 155 mm/45 caliber, which increased the range from 26 km to 39 km. A ban on South Africaâ€™s Denel had adverse repercussions for the progress of the Indian Armyâ€™s Bhim Artillery Project, an indigenous project under which Denel proposed to install a 155 mm gun on the Indian-made Arjun tank chassis. Now, though, given the governmentâ€™s fast-track approach to procuring weapon systems for the Army, Air Force, and Navy, there is reason to believe that other lagging projects of the Indian Armyâ€™s Artillery could be about to get a boost. This haste in decision-making regarding defense procurements is due to the new governmentâ€™s desire to â€œclear a backlog of defense ordersâ€ in order to provide an impetus to Indiaâ€™s military capability and boost its defense preparedness. China and Pakistan are already enhancing their artillery strength and India cannot afford to be left behind. Several Indian companies are vying for the Armyâ€™s artillery project, namely TATA, L&T, and Bharat Forge, which can either develop the guns completely or build the guns in collaboration with a foreign firm. For instance, L&T has entered into an agreement with Franceâ€™s Nexter Systems to offer the guns, while Mahindra Defence has joined with BAE systems. In August 2014, reports came in that India had lifted its ban on South Africaâ€™s Denel company while in November 2014, India has also lifted its ban on Israeli Military Industries (IMI) and intends to plan for the future possibility of manufacturing ammunition for its 155 mm guns. As New Delhi considers national security to be of â€œparamount concernâ€ for the government, addressing the bottlenecks and hurdles in the defense procurement process will ensure that the â€œpace of acquisition is not stymied.â€ In July 2014, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley raised the foreign investment limit that can be contributed to the domestic defense industry from 29 percent to 49 percent in the hope of attracting more of its main arms suppliers in order to â€œreshape the defense industrial base dominated by state firms.â€ Under the new government, India has boosted defense spending by 12 per cent. Indiaâ€™s decision to clear the 155 mm/52 caliber guns will no doubt lend momentum to the Indian Armyâ€™s artillery modernization program, and could cause foreign firms to â€œrevisit their strategiesâ€ for the Indian market. It is clear that India is now keen on moving towards self-reliance with state-of-the-art equipment, rather than just buying complete systems from foreign firms. Debalina Ghoshal is an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies.