Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer trials for Indian Bofors in June

Source TOI, NAGPUR: The indigenous 155mm artillery guns, made on the lines of the Bofors howitzers procured by Indian Army in the 1980s, will go for the last round of firing trials next month. After successful winter trials in snowbound Sikkim during March, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is now preparing for the summer rounds of Operation Dhanush, as the project has been christened.

The tests will be held in June-end and shall continue till July in the Pokhran desert. If everything goes well, this will be the last time these guns will blaze to prove their mettle. However, other tests, which include an evaluation by the directorate general of quality assurance (DGQA) of the Army, will follow before the howitzers are finally inducted. The other tests will not involve test fires however, said a source.

A year ago, during the summers trials in August, the barrel of the gun being tested had exploded, pushing back the indigenization process. Had the accident not taken place, it would have been the last round of test firing. But the project was pushed back for a year. The winter trials followed, which were successful, said a source in the ministry of defence.

The guns are being developed at the Gun Carriage Factory at Jabalpur. There are plans to add two new howitzers in the coming couple of months. "There are plans to make close to 20 pieces in the coming months," said the source, who refused to divulge the number of guns developed so far.

The guns developed by GCF are of 155x45 calibre as against 155x39 of the original Bofors guns procured from Sweden. This means the Indian version has a longer barrel, ensuring a higher range. But, at the same time, the army itself is looking for 155x52 calibre guns from the open market and is also in the process of acquiring ultralight M777 howitzers from the US. The process of indigenization started over three years ago, after the Army's efforts to buy fresh lot of 155mm guns from the global market did not meet any success.


Officials said OFB would be taking up new products such as new generation assault rifles, CQB carbine, 155/52 artillery guns, 155/52 mounted gun system, Smerch rockets, grad rockets, successor to L-70 AD gun, very short-range air defence missile and latest generation ammunition for 84 mm rocket launcher through technology transfer.

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