A 155mm Bofors Gun being overhauled. Photo Credit: Sainik Samachar
In late September 2012, MOD cleared a proposal to induct 114 indigenously built FH-77B 155 mm/45 calibre towed howitzers into the Army.
The guns would be built by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) in Jabalpur on the basis of Transfer of Technology of the controversial Swiss Bofors guns, which were inducted into the Army in late 1980s.
"The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) has cleared a proposal for production of 114 155mm guns (in the Army). Winter trials will take place in December and summer trials in June," defense minister A K Antony told reporters. (via PTI)
Antony, who earlier in the month visited Jabalpur to review the progress in the development of the guns, expressed hope that these trials would be successful "so that after 30 years, India can have upgraded 155mm guns."
On March 7, 2013, the TOI reported that the MOD has placed a "letter of intent" with the OFB for 114 howitzers "a couple of days ago" to ensure it can begin bulk production after the "user-trials" in June.
The "letter of intent" for the 114 howitzers was placed on the OFB "a couple of days ago" to ensure it can begin bulk production after the "user-trials" in June.
The Army has projected an initial requirement for 414 of these guns, each of which will cost over Rs 11 crore, as part of its long-delayed artillery modernization program.
The delivery schedule will depend on the date the bulk order for the guns is placed.
6 guns have to be delivered within 8 months, 12 within 12 months, 36 within 24 months, 60 within 36 months and 114 within 60 months. [via PIB]
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has upgraded the 155m Bofors gun by lengthening its barrel (increasing calibre from 39 to 45), allowing the gun to achieve a range of 40 km. Additionally, mechanical and electronic suites of the gun have been improved.
The gun "has been tried out in PXE (Proof and Experimental Establishment), Balasore," OFB chairperson Sashi Dhar Dimri said in Calcutta on March 20, 2012, on the sidelines of the 210th anniversary of OFB. [via IANS]
Field trials of the gun are scheduled to be held in January 2013.
"We are confident that in the beginning of 2013, our GCF (Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur) will be in a position to field the gun for trials," Dimri said.
While one gun has been upgraded with the electronic suite incorporating ballistic computers, servo valves and communication systems to provide automation, the second gun has been upgraded by fitting a new 45 calibre barrel, enabling it to achieve a range of 40 km.
On April 29, 2013, the Minister of State for Defense told parliament that the OFB has carried out several internal firings of their in house developed 155mm x 45 calibre Artillery Gun and it has met the planned objectives. However, User Test Fire is yet to be carried out.
The Defense Acquisition Council in October 2011 asked Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is to manufacture two prototypes of upgraded 155mm/45 calibre Howitzer Gun and offer them for trials by Jun 2013. [via PIB]
On December 28, 2012, the TOI reported that field trials of the two prototype guns were successfully conducted at the Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) testing range in Balasore, Odisha on December 19, 20 and 23 respectively.
GM, Gun carriage factory (GCF), S P Yadav, told the newspaper that the performance of both the prototype guns had been as expected; they had successfully hit targets 38-40 kilometers away.
The trials were witnessed by Lt Gen Anjan Mukherji, DG Artillery as well as experts from DRDO.
The PXE range is equipped for accurate ballistic measurements and DRDO has compiled the data from the trials.
Yadav is confident that the GCF developed Bofors 155 mm/ 45 caliber gun would bag the MOD project worth Rs 6,000 crore for supply of guns to the Indian Army.
GCF carried out initial internal trials of the guns in May in Pokharan, which proved to be satisfactory.
Next the guns were tested at Central Proof Establishment (CPE) at Itarsi on November 30, December 5 and 6.
At CPE, the firing was confined to the arrest3r butt on zero degree elevation.
At the subsequent field trials at Balasore the gun could go up to the gun's maximum elevation of 70 degrees at every designed angle, Yadav said.
After the CPE firing the guns were subjected to a series of tests to ensure their structural integrity han't been compromised. It was determined that all components and assemblies had borne the firing firing stress without any damage.
On their return to GCF from Balasore, the guns would once again be subjected to the tests before being handed over to the Indian Army.