The army is set to get an artillery boost with a proposal being moved to raise six new regiments of the indigenous Pinaka Multi-Launcher Rocket System (MLRS), a formidable system designed to annihilate enemy targets with a blanket of precisely guided rockets.
Tata Power and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) will get a major share of the Rs 1,950-crore contract that is to be approved by the defence ministry as they are the primary manufacturers of the mobile artillery system, along with state-run Bharat Earth Movers.
Sources said the army has moved a proposal to add six new regiments — with a total of 108 launchers — to its existing holding of three regiments to plug gaps in its artillery arm. The proposal is to process it as a repeat order under the buy Indian category with an initial allotment of Rs 1,950 crore.
The value of the contract could however go up, sources said. Impressed by the capabilities of the MLRS — the system is capable of flattening a 3.9 sq km area at a range of 40 km in less than a minute — the defence ministry is also moving ahead to increase the capacity of the Ordnance Factory Board to produce the rockets in India.
From the existing capacity of 1,000 rockets a year, the government has sanctioned an increase to 5,000 rockets annually, in a project that would costRs 1,388 crore. In addition, Defence Research and Development Organisation is also working at increasing the range of the system from the present 40 km to 60 km by making improvements in the rockets. Field trials for this new, improved Pinaka II rocket are expected to start shortly.