Indian army, despite being surrounded by hostile neighbors, was deprived of major 155 mm artillery for nearly 3 decades mainly due to the infamous Bofors scandal and policy paralysis by the UPA later. Modi government in 2014, present with indigenous solution of Dhanush and ATAGS guns at nascent stages, successfully tackled the uphill task of improving army’s firepower. Here is how it was done these 5 years:
- Dhanush Howitzer (155mm 45 calibre): The Desi and improved version of Bofors howitzer by Ordnance Factory Board has a range of 38km. The programme started in 2010, but its trials successfully were conducted in 2016 and first batch of six howitzers were handed over to Army this April.
- DRDO Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (155mm, 52 calibre): ATAGS first grabbed the spotlight when it broke the world record by firing a distance of 47.2 km. The guns successfully completed its trials in 2016-17 and first lot of 40 guns is to start soon.
- M777-A2 howitzer (155mm 39 calibre): 145 units of war proven ultra-light howitzers from US were inked via G2G purchase by then RM Manohar Parrikar at $700mn. 10 units have been delivered as of now. These can even be airlifted at the heights of Siachen.
- K9 Vajra T (155mm 52 calibre): K9 Vajra T, the improved version of combat proven self-propelled K9 Thunder of Samsung Techwin of S.Korea deal was inked on Sept’15 by then RM Manohar Parrikar. 100 howitzers have been ordered.
- M46 upgrade (155mm 45 calibre): The OFB Nalanda has successfully upgraded the Soviet-era howitzers to 155mm at a price of 1cr/unit and improved the range from 27 to 36 km. The Army has ordered to upgrade 300 such guns.
- Athos 2052 (155mm 52 calibre): These Elbit guns from Israel recently emerged as a winner over French Trajan gun of Nexter in the Indian Army’s 155mm, 52 calibre artillery competition. It will complement ATAGS in the 52 calibre category.