The Indian Army has shortlisted state-run Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and private player Punj Lloydfor a project to upgrade its ageing Zu 23 2B air defence guns in a selection process that has been on for over four years.
After several rounds of trials in different weather conditions and terrain, the $100-million contract has been progressed beyond the technical evaluation stage, with commercial bids likely to be opened within the next six months.
Sources said while five companies had initially taken part in the competition, three did not make it past the technical evaluation, leaving only Punj Lloyd and BEL in the fray. The upgrade is critical for the Army that wants to modernise its 468 air defence guns of the 1960s vintage to make them all weather, capable of day-night operations and equipped with a digital fire control system.
Confirming the development, Ashok Wadhawan, president (manufacturing) at Punj Lloyd, said the company is confident of its ability to execute the contract and is looking forward to the final round of commercial bid opening that would determine the winner of the contract.
“We have gained considerable experience on the project and also have a modern 30 mm air defence gun ready for requirements of the Indian Army,” the executive said. BEL also has considerable experience in upgrading of air defence guns and is currently involved in a major project to modernise the L 70 series of guns with the Army.