How Bofors Affairs Transformed India

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by john70, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. john70

    john70 Regular Member

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    a very intriguing article : telling how the corruption and bureaucracy in Indian armed forces were making a mess. How an inferior gun was selected over far better ones.

    By Lt Gen M Mayadas
    Issue: Book Excerpt: How the Boffors Affair Transformed India

    [​IMG]

    Important factors considered by the TEC while comparing the characteristics of the four gun systems.

    Range.

    During the 1981 trials in India, the Bofors achieved a range of 15 kms, during which, the firing mechanism and other components flew out of the breach. The Swedes asked for a little more time and hurriedly rushed in new components, but even then a range of only 21.5 kms was obtained. When the Swedish team was being interviewed by my Committee, I asked them specifically to state what the maximum range of the gun was. They stated categorically that it was 24 kms. So I asked if this range had been witnessed by any Indian Army officer. They said "Yes General more or less".-I sat up at this reply and requested them to clarify for the benefit of my Committee, what the exact implication of the electrifying phrase "more or less" signified. The range achieved is an exact figure. It can be 15000, 21000, 23500, 24400 or whatever, but it cannot be "24000 more or less"

    ...a message was received from the Control Tower that the artillery could not fire because the firing ranges and the target areas where the shells were to fall, had been thrown open for moose-hunting.
    The Swedish answer was absolutely honest. When the guns were ready to fire, and the Indian officers were at the target end of the range, a message was received from the Control Tower that the artillery could not fire because the firing ranges and the target areas where the shells were to fall, had been thrown open for moose-hunting (the moose is one of the largest of the deer tribe).

    The story was quite incredible, and showed a total lack of coordination by the Swedes an otherwise very efficient nation. The Indian officers present had not mentioned this startling fact to anyone in India, and for some unknown reason had not submitted a Delegation Report. Something with which I had taxed the DCOAS.

    The Austrian gun fired upto 39 kms, and the French gun upto 30.5 kms. It was a tremendous achievement on the part of the Austrians to produce a gun capable of reaching 30 kms with a totally ballistic solution, Le, without a rocket booster. For this they manufactured a much larger chamber, thus' substantially reducing breech pressures. For longer ranges in excess of 30 kms, and upto 39.5 kms they used special ammunition called the Base Bleed. In order to reach 30 kms the French used rocket assisted ammunition. Both these guns therefore outgunned by large margins the Swedish gun which conferred immense tactical advantages on the two former weapons. The following sketch will amplify the position.

    The Indian officers present had not mentioned this startling fact to anyone in India, and for some unknown reason had not submitted a Delegation Report.

    [​IMG]
    There are two opposing forces namely Blueland and Redland. If Redland has the Austrian gun, and Blueland has the Bofors, then Redland can move its guns from position No.1 back to position No.2, and still reach deep into Redland territory, while remaining out of range of the Redland guns. As such the Redland guns will always be unable to engage the Blueland guns once they have been moved back. This situation is amplified in the sketch.

    Without moving his Austrian or for that matter, French guns which we know had much longer ranges than the Bofors, the enemy could from a greater distance, bombard bur own positions including our Bofors guns, forcing our guns to move constantly from one position to another while the enemy remained in his original position. Thus making us dance incessantly and rather uncomfortably to his tune.

    Weight of Projectile.

    The Austrian gun fired the heaviest shell. The French shell was also marginally heavier than the Bofors one. Combine this with the first factor. With far longer ranges each had a more devastating lethal punch.

    For movement of the Austrian gun in slushy or sandy areas, two of the main wheels on either side could be connected together with tracked chains almost like tank tracks giving much more traction, and hence greater mobility.


    Mobility and Stability.


    All the guns on offer had their own Auxiliary Power Units (APUs). The Swedish and French guns travelled under their own power at 8 kmph, but the Austrian gun travelled at 34 kmph something which Sundarji had seen for himself when he drove the gun in Austria. It carried enough fuel to move 130 kms under its own power.

    The Swedish gun had a height of 2.82m (with the French one slightly lower) and was mounted on four wheels, two very large ones, and two for the trailing arms. It had a high centre of gravity making it unsteady on broken ground. As far as this point is concerned the French gun was very similar to the Bofors. Both these guns could only move slowly across country because of their high centres of gravity, and APU s of limited power.

    On the other hand, the Austrian gun had a height of 2.05m. It was mounted on six wheels, with four ordinary truck-sized wheels carrying the gun platform, and two smaller ones for the trailing arms. For movement in slushy or sandy areas, two of the main wheels on either side could be connected together with tracked chains almost like tank tracks giving much more traction, and hence greater mobility. Combine all these factors, and add one more in favour of the Austrian gun. While moving under its own power, six crew members and six rounds of ammunition could be carried. So it moved to its new position at great speed, and came into action well before the Bofors gun arrived.
     
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  3. john70

    john70 Regular Member

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    The """ LOTS OF GAALIS""" Politicians and Bureucrats really ****ed up our armed services.

    The Austrian gun was far ahead in all parameters and the most lowly gun was selected !!!!

    can senior members verify this ?

    more to follow ..........
     
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  4. john70

    john70 Regular Member

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    Silhouette.

    We will examine this from the practical and tactical points of view, in conjunction with the third factor given above. A high silhouette is more difficult to hide especially in the desert, since it entails much more digging down. Hence greater time and effort is required to conceal the guns. The Austrian gun was the lowest. A gun is given its own APU to enable it to fire a few rounds, and then move as quickly as possible to another firing position. In an engagement involving medium or other long range artillery with an active enemy radar, or to counter active air strikes, the aim should be to change position quickly if detected, by moving to another position. If the gun-towing tractors cannot come up immediately to the initial gun position for some reason or the other, the gun may have to move to a second or a third position under its own power. To move cross--country for 1000m, the Bofors at 6 kmph (maximum speed 8 kmph) would take 10 minutes, and the Austrian gun at 24 kmph (maximum speed 34 kmph) would take only 2.5 minutes, thus enabling the Austrian gun to come into action in its new position much before the Swedish gun arrived and, if digging was required, dig a position quicker than either the Bofors or French guns, because of its lower silhouette.

    Rate of Fire.

    This factor must be considered in conjunction with the previous factors and covers the much vexed question of "Burst Fire". The Bofors gun had the ability to be able to fire three rounds kept in a tray ready to be fired one after the other, in a total time of 12/15 seconds. This was called Burst Fire. It could do two Burst Fires i.e. a total of 6 rounds in 25 to 36 seconds, and thereafter 6 rounds Burst Fire every other minute for 20 minutes. This method was enforced to prevent overheating of the gun barrel.

    Thus the Bofors could fire 60 rounds in 20 minutes or a total of 3 rounds per minute. The Austrian gun could do a Burst Fire in 16 seconds, and in 20 minutes file 40 rounds at normal rate, and 140 rounds in 20 minutes at its maximum rate of fire. I fought against the loose use of this term, because "Burst Fire" conferred an advantage of four seconds for only the first three rounds, and at that time still being in service I had to be careful with my choice of words. Eventually when Sundarji came out with outrageous claims for the Bofors "Burst Fire" capability and "Shoot and Scoot" (an unoriginal term purloined from American professional magazines) I had to protest openly and called these Sundarji's "Red Herrings". Later on he told the JPC, as quoted in the Hindustan Times on 1 May 88 that the Bofors gun was chosen to counter the American ground radar ANTPS 37 acquired by Pakistan, which brought about a "sea-change" to India's vulnerability, and induced the Defence Ministry to order the Bofors gun!!
     
  5. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Its obvious..

    You have a 45cal gun verses a 39cal gun, rest clear above..
     
  6. john70

    john70 Regular Member

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    Simplicity.

    This factor concerned 'simplicity' as opposed to "sophistication". The Bofors gun, and to a slightly less degree, the French gun depended heavily upon hydraulics for most of its functioning. In the eventuality of the hydraulic system failing it had the ability to switch over to mechanical handling, but then its rate of fire dropped drastically, and it became hard work for the gun crew. I was against this unnecessary sophistication for an artillery weapon, because of the conditions under which our guns and other equipment with 'field formations are parked.

    ... any re-engineering will only make it even heavier. We are landed with the Bofors, its short range, and the fact that it cannot be mounted on a tank chassis for use as a self-propelled (SP) gun.

    Tanks, guns etc. lie for months on end in the open, covered with tarpaulins and not in sheds, so that wind, sun, rain and dust take their toll of the many rubberised fittings and hydraulic tubes which are mounted in exposed places. I, as an armoured corps officer had experienced these conditions since I had been a 2/Lt. Sundarji a non-technical man, with peripheral experience of equipment considered this sophistication to be of great importance, and this was one of the points that made him suddenly choose the Swedish over the French gun, and both over the Austrian gun!!

    Upgradation of Weaponry.

    In gunnery, all other variables being equal, the longer the barrel, the greater' the range. The Bofors barrel was the shortest, and the Austrian the longest. It was a great achievement for the Austrians to mount such a long barrel on a field artillery piece, and today, many countries including the Americans and Bofors are trying to produce longer barrels for artillery of this calibre. In my opinion a longer barrel cannot be retrofitted on our present Bofors guns, because there will be problems of balance, resulting in the re-engineering of the whole gun. The Bofors is the second heaviest of all the four guns, and any re-engineering will only make it even heavier. We are landed with the Bofors, its short range, and the fact that it cannot be mounted on a tank chassis for use as a self-propelled (SP) gun.

    Thus if we retain the Bofors towed system on which we have already squandered so much money, and if we want to buy 155 mm SP guns to accompany our armoured columns in mobile warfare we will have to procure the latter from a different source. We will then have two different types of 155 mm guns in our inventory with disastrous results concerning storage, spare parts and supply of ammunition in the field, and to our exchequer.



    At that time I proposed that we have a look at the South African SP gun called the Rhino. This was a six wheeled armoured vehicle which mounted the Austrian 155 mm gun, and though it did not have the mobility of a tank, was nevertheless good enough for most terrain.

    Costs.

    ... the Bofors was the most expensive system. For the 400 systems then required, and bearing in mind the availability of money, we could buy twelve Austrian guns for the price of seven Bofors guns...

    At the time when my TEC met the four contenders, the Bofors was the most expensive system. For the 400 systems then required, and bearing in mind the availability of money, we could buy twelve Austrian guns for the price of seven Bofors guns i.e. a ratio of 12:7. This implies that if we had bought the Austrian gun, taking into account all its other vast advantages as brought out earlier, we could have bought 40% MORE Austrian 155 mm systems, or perhaps some SP artillery also, which the Austrians were willing to develop for us, by mounting their gun on one of our tanks like the T-72 or the Vijayanta.

    Availability.

    Since at that time Sundarji was making a fuss about the danger from the land radar that Pakistan had acquired, we should have bought a 155 mm system immediately, or, as soon as possible. Austria had 400 guns ready for delivery, Sweden had none, and the French had six. Sundarji had in Dec 82 recommended the Austrian guns for an outright buy, while highlighting the danger from Pakistani radar. Suddenly he decided that India could wait until the Bofors could be delivered, which was some years hence. So, where was the danger, and from whom?

    Prime Contractor.

    The Austrians were ready to supply the complete system. Initially the Swedes were not, especially the ammunition, which was manufactured by Belgium for NATO. And now, as of today, the Bofors system has run into trouble. We have previously had problems about supply of ammunition, and now it is believed that the ammunition is to purchased from South Africa! Other components and spare parts are required urgently, and the position has grown acute.

    Air Portability.

    The only gun, that could be transported by air was the Austrian.
     
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  7. john70

    john70 Regular Member

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    How could they do this ..........

    Actually I had heard lot about wrong in getting bofor's but I had impression that it was a still good gun, but this was a bomb on my Belief.
     
  8. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Thanks to Internet, we can know now..

    There was no way back then to know such frauds for normal people..
     
  9. john70

    john70 Regular Member

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    Kunal is this information about bofors......so much right ?
     
  10. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    [​IMG]

    Figure is correct, Except FH-77 can be carried in IL-76..
     
  11. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    With the help of the above comparison can it be said that Noricum - Austria product was the clear winner, apart from technically superior 400 were in ready stock!!!
     
  12. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    IIRC there was a talk during that time that the US was going to supply Pakistan with Radar which could track incoming fire and locate the position of the guns.
    Bofors had the shoot and scoot capability which weighed heavily in it's favour.
     
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  13. john70

    john70 Regular Member

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    you are absolutely right : the article has this too...


    "Thus the Bofors could fire 60 rounds in 20 minutes or a total of 3 rounds per minute. The Austrian gun could do a Burst Fire in 16 seconds, and in 20 minutes file 40 rounds at normal rate, and 140 rounds in 20 minutes at its maximum rate of fire. I fought against the loose use of this term, because "Burst Fire" conferred an advantage of four seconds for only the first three rounds, and at that time still being in service I had to be careful with my choice of words. Eventually when Sundarji came out with outrageous claims for the Bofors "Burst Fire" capability and "Shoot and Scoot" (an unoriginal term purloined from American professional magazines) I had to protest openly and called these Sundarji's "Red Herrings". Later on he told the JPC, as quoted in the Hindustan Times on 1 May 88 that the Bofors gun was chosen to counter the American ground radar ANTPS 37 acquired by Pakistan, which brought about a "sea-change" to India's vulnerability, and induced the Defence Ministry to order the Bofors gun!! "

    but here the author undermines it.
     
  14. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    The Austrian product could travel at 34 kmph...isn't that better...that too under its own power for 130 kms.
     
  15. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Lt Gen (Retd) M Mayadas, who then was Director Weapons and Equipment at the Army headquarters, certainly has the right credentials to expose the true picture.

    But hasn't Kalyani group showcased this Austrian Gun at Defexpo. We should definitely look into this once again.
     
  16. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    This is now coming out. I wrote what I remembered reading in the newspapers in those days, when there was no internet.
     
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  17. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    In that case...you have a very good memory.....
     
  18. john70

    john70 Regular Member

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    Upcoming event would make our finalization of artillary :
    Future Artillery India 2012 ---

    IQPC Future Artillery India

    As India embarks upon the largest artillery modernisation drive in its history, Defence IQ’s Future Artillery India conference brings together key military and industry stakeholders to examine India’s current modernisation strategy. Now in its second year, Future Artillery India 2012 provides delegates with the rare opportunity to connect with the key decision makers responsible for future artillery in India.
     
  19. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    During that period, the newspapers were pretty much full of Bofors news only.

    BTW, my wife would certainly contest your point about my memory.
     
  20. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    This time there are two Quasi Domestic Bidders, L&T and Kalyani, it would be very interesting to see how things would progress.
     
  21. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    'The army and I are being made scapegoats in the Bofors drama'

    Eight years and ten months after he retired as India's chief of army staff, the bogey of the controversial multi-million dollar Bofors kickbacks case haunts the 69-year old General K Sundarji.

    Rediff On The NeT: The Rediff Interview with General K Sundarji
     
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