In its latest efforts to equip its artillery regiments with news guns, the Indian Army is finally moving towards procuring 814 of the ‘mounted gun system’- a gun mounted on a wheeled vehicle- a project worth about Rs 15,750 crore.
The army is trying to ‘re-validate’ the project and seek a fresh Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) from the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, ministry officials explained.
The AoN is the first step towards procuring an equipment. In this case, the AoN for acquiring the 155mm/52 caliber mounted gun system for the army for Rs 15,750 crore was given in November 22, 2014 by the DAC headed by the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar. For the army, the gun is a major requirement, as once procured they will be deployed along the western frontier with Pakistan and the eastern one with China.
“But the Request for Proposal (RFP) was not issued within the validity period of the AoN and so the AoN had lapsed. Therefore the army will revalidate the case and seek a fresh AoN, which will restart the process,” explained officials.
A RFP is a document which elaborates on the general requirements of an equipment, the numbers required, time frame for deliveries, maintenance and training among other requirements. It enables vendors to make their offer after considering the requirements of the acquisition.
According to the Defence Procurement Procedure-2016, “the AoN would lapse for all cases where the RFP for the approved quantity is not issued within the original validity period of AoN”. In such cases, the service headquarters (in this case the army) would have to re-validate the case and seek fresh AoN with due justification for not processing the case in time.
The army, which has had a need for this type of gun for a decade, had announced its interest in it in 2013. It had proposed that Indian vendors who can undertake the project come forward with the required information, such as on the gun’s dimensions, the crew that will operate it, ammunition to be used, vehicle characteristics and the range.
Reports claim that there are several private contenders for the project. Even the government owned, Ordnance Factory Board, had exhibited its mounted gun system at the Defexpo 2018 held in Chennai last month.
The gun is part of the Army’s Rs 50,000 crore Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan, which was drawn in 1999 and seeks to arm the artillery regiments with a mix of about 3000 guns by 2027. The projection also includes towed guns, self propelled guns and ultra light howitzers.