Yet another reveleation made by Gen V K Singh

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Kunal Biswas, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

    May 26, 2010
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    Which now brings us to another reveleation made by Gen V K Singh about the Army’s field artillery rationalisation programme (FARP). But before that, it will be worth reproducing the MoD’s statement in Parliament on March 19, 2012:

    "The Govt of India had secured the right of ToT during the purchase of Bofors FH-77B 155mm/39-cal field artillery howitzers. Though all the technological documents as per the ToT contract were received by the MoD-owned Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) from Bofors AB, the ToT was not carried forward as the dealings with the technology provider, (Bofors AB) were suspended. Further, no indent was placed by the Army on OFB for manufacture and supply of complete FG-77Bs. Capital expenditure of Rs376.55 crore (US$75 million) was sanctioned by the Govt of India in March, 2012 for creation/augmentation of Large Calibre Weapon manufacturing capacity in Ordnance Factories.

    Earlier on November 28 last year, this is what Defence Minister A K Antony had said at the Lok Sabha: "The OFB has been manufacturing the major components of the FH-77B, such as the barrel, breach mechanism, muzzle-break, loading trough, recoil system along with the elevating and traversing cylinders, and supplying all these to the Army as spares."

    It would therefore seem that the all-important gun-trails and gun-carriages of the towed FH-77B have yet to be indigenised, and all related work to this effect has at last been initiated by the OFB’s Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF). It now remains to be seen if the GCF can master the metallurgical processes required for series-producing the gun-trails and gun-carriages. Meanwhile, one experimental FH-77B incorporating all OFB-built components, along with Bharat Electronics Ltd-supplied mizzle velocity radar, fire-control computer and its AMLCD-based terminal, VHF radio, fibre-optic gyro-based land navigation system (serived from the one developed by HAL for the Arjun Mk1 MBT), direct aiming sight, and interfaces with the DRDO-developed and BEL-built ‘Shatki’ ACCCS artillery fire-direction system, is presently undergoing firing trials at the DRDO’s Balasore-based Proof & Experimental Estsblishment (PXE). The OFB has been ordered by the MoD to offer two complete GCF-built FH-77Bs for field trials that are due to take place in March 2013 and last until the end of the same year. If successful, then an order for 400 of these GCF-built FH-77Bs will be placed and executed between 2014 and 2019.

    In a related development, in response to a global RFP issued in August 2008 by Army HQ for upgradation of an initial 100 of the existing 360 155mm/39-calibre FH-77Bs, the GCF has proposed a modification package under which a new-design 155mm/45-cal barrel (which was originally developed for the OFB’s in-house upgraded M-46 Metamorphosis variant) , breach mechanism, muzzle-break, loading trough, recoil system, and elevating and traversing cylinders will be developed and offered for series-production. The competing proposal has come from the $21.25 million joint venture between Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd and BAE Systems (which was created in December 2009 as a land systems-focussed, joint venture defence company, based in Faridabad, with the company’s equity split being 74% Mahindra and 26% BAE Systems), which has proposed its FH-77B05L52 package that includes BEL-built components, along with a ToT offer that will enable GCF to receive via ToT all drawings and production-engineering data required for locally producing the 155mm/52-cal barrel, breach mechanism, muzzle-break, loading trough, recoil system along with the elevating and traversing cylinders, with the redesigned gun-trails and gun-carriages being built by the Mahindra-BAE Systems JV at Faridabad and being supplied to GCF for final assembly and systems integration. India’s Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju confirmed on March 1, 2012 that the Indian Army has already placed orders for an initial 100 modified FH-77B05L52s with OFB. Further updates and announcements in this issue are expected to emerge during the DEFEXPO 2012 expo.

    Which brings me to the most interesting question: will Army HQ next issue an RFP calling for the development of a motorised version of the GCF-built 155mm/39-cal FH-77B, for which OFB already has a risk-sharing joint-venture agreement with TATA Motors? It would make perfect sense if such an RFP were to be issued in the near future, since the Army’s requirement for such motorised howitzers (in 39-cal configuration) is for 800+ units, while those for a motorised 52-cal configuration exceed 1,800 units.—Prasun K. Sengupta

    master and maomao like this.

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