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By Bulbul Singh

21 Sep 08. India is on a global hunt for the acquisition of 4800 numbers of Sensor Fuzed Munition (SFM) along with Transfer of Technology (TOT) for the 155 mm gun system of the Indian Army. The multimillion dollar contract also entails compulsory 30 per cent defence offsets.

A Senior Defence Ministry official said, India would prefer to ultimately produce all the ammunition requirements for the 155mm guns at Indian facilities, and as such will prefer complete Transfer of Technology of ammunition for 155mm guns.

In fact the Indian government has even allowed overseas participation with Indian companies to produce ammunition for variety of guns to fulfil the Defence Offset requirements, a move which is likely to see joint collaborations between Indian companies and overseas defence companies in the manufacture of ammunition for 155mm guns.

The current tender for the purchase of 4800 numbers of Sensor Fuzed Munitions (SFM) is initially for only $120 million but sources said, there will be repeat orders for the ammunition.

The SFMs will be employed for the destruction of high-value mobile and static targets, both in offensive and defensive operations. The SFMs will be employed against well-dispersed mobile and static targets and as such the munition should display a very high kill probability and also cater for electronic counter measures to ensure accurate and reliable functioning.

The munition should also be so designed so that that they can destruct targets which are beyond visual engagement range and also targets in depth.

The SFM should have an active homing system and consist of two or more sub-munitions with sensors, transmitters and receivers. The sensors of the sub-munitions will start searching the target based on a pre-determined path. Depending upon the reflected energy, the sub munition should be able to initiate the warhead on target detection.

The range of the SFM should be compatible with that of the existing 155mm Indian Artillery systems as with 155 and 52 Calibre gun systems.

The hit probability of the SFM should be a minimum of 80 per cent and it should be effective both in plain as well as high altitude and all weather conditions.

The delivery of the SFM should be in phase with 1320 fully-formed SFMs and 48 in Completely Knocked Down Kits. In the first year after the contract is signed requires 3000 Fully formed SFMs in second year and balance 432 SFMs in Completely Knocked Down Kits.

India is keen to manufacture its own ammunition for 155mm guns, as the Indian Army has planned to replace all field guns, ultimately with 155mm guns, currently the Indian Army is on a global hunt to purchase varieties of 155mm guns.

India had to resort to emergency purchases of ammunition for the 155mm field guns in the 1999 Kargil battle with Pakistan at very steep prices. The Russian Krasnopol 155mm laser guided shells displayed defective performance during Army tests. 1,000 Krasnopol shells were bought from M/s KBP Instrument Design Bureau in Tula, Russia under a 1999 contract, and delivered in May 2000 at a cost about $34.4 million.

The Indian Army is also on a global hunt for the purchase of 400,000 30mm Armour Piercing Discarding (APDC) ammunition for BMP-2 armoured vehicles. Presently the 30mm BMP-2 guns are capable of firing shells which have a penetration of less than 18mm at 1000 meter range. The new shells will have enhanced capacity.

The weight of the ammunition should not be less than 900 grams and it should be rust and corrosion resistant, having a shelf life of not less than 10 years under field storage conditions.

Indian Army’s ammunition requirements are being met by the 39 state-owned Ordnance Factories but the technologies used for the manufacture of variety of ammunition is outdated and needs modernization.

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