The Army’s quest for new artillery is nearing completion with the indigenous gun upgraded by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) clearing trials. The Army has placed an indent for 114 guns in the first phase and these will be delivered in three years, informed sources said.
“After the Pokhran fiasco with one barrel-burst, Dhanush barrels were tested in Sikkim under cold conditions and in other temperatures — and came out with flying colours. The Army is fully satisfied,” officials told The Hindu.
A Dhanush prototype suffered a barrel burst during firing trials at Pokhran in August 2013 which delayed the process.80% indigenous
The initial deal for 114 guns is expected to cost around Rs.1,600 crore. Pleased with the performance of the gun, the Army has given strong indications of an additional order for 481 guns, sources added.
The Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish 155-mm Bofors howitzers bought by India in the mid-1980s based on the original design. It is a 155-mm, 45-calibre gun with a maximum effective range of 38 km in salvo mode compared to the 39-calibre, 27-km range of the original guns. It is 80 per cent indigenous, with the APU (auxiliary power unit), electronic dial sights and a few other small items being imported.
The Army is desperately short of new long-range artillery, having failed to induct any new gun after the Bofors scandal. Recently, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar approved a revised proposal from BAE Systems for 145 Ultra-Light Howitzers for mountainous areas under a government-to-government deal with the United States.
Additionally last November, the DAC cleared the process for purchase of 814 mounted gun systems through the ‘Buy and Make’ category to be built by an Indian private partner in collaboration with a foreign manufacturer.