Millennium Post

New Howitzer gun soon

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is set to meet the woes of the Army in procuring a Howitzer gun. This misery of the force has lingered over two decades since the Bofors Howitzer was bought and agent’s commission paid, thus triggering the most seminal bribery scandal of modern India, which caused a prime minister to lose his job and not get re-elected along with his party (Congress).

Various tenders (request for proposals) have been issued since then – three to be exact – but each time reports of potential pay-offs to private agents have stalled them, leading up to the blacklisting of companies like Denel of South Africa and the eponymous Singapore Technologies.

The DRDO had begun preliminary work on a proposal of a similar Howitzer in late 1990s, sources say, but had to abandon it because of lack of support from the Army.

The latter was bent on procuring it from foreign sources. But the last time they got singed with the Singapore Technologies, the Army has finally been told by the Defence Ministry that the domestic sources should be given a chance.

On the basis of that directive, DRDO in turn has told the Army that they will meet the conditions of their last RFP and produce a gun in three years. A senior scientist of the organisation, who is also in-charge of the combat systems, told this correspondent that this yet unnamed gun will be of 155 mm, 52 calibre.

But if the Army is willing to wait for another three years or so, they will get a gun of the specifications with special features. Those features will be a special coating inside the barrel of the gun that would allow it withstand the fire rate of 1,500 rounds and continue for more.

It will also have multi-round, simultaneous impact rounds that will fire projectiles at various ballistic trajectories thus creating confusion for the gun locating radars. It will also have a smart, recoil technology by which the gun system will choose the amount of recoil according to the kind of a round it fired. This feature will be activated by charging the round electrically.

The gun will also have a electric drive instead of a hydraulic one by which it would move according to targets. Its own movements like ‘shoot and scoot’ will also be automatic.

The gun will be ready in five to seven years and is at the design stages now, but various subsystems are already being developed.

But the DRDO source says that they will be ready with the basic gun ‘matching the last RFP of the army’ within three years.
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