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28 Feb 14. Having cancelled the 2013 global tender, under a new $400 million tender, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) will buy 400 guns as successors for Indian Army L-70 air defence guns only from domestic companies to replace the aging Swedish L-70 guns in the inventory of 2000 guns. The order is likely to increase once the final bidder is short listed.

Several domestic companies have already begun negotiations with overseas defence companies in order to compete for the tender. Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has already tied up with Ukraine Export while Tata Power SED and Bharat Forge are also negotiating with overseas defence companies to compete in the tender.

BEL along with Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) are using their own thermal sights and ballistics from Tadiran of Israel. L&T have already tied up with Elbit of Israel for thermal sights while Tata Power SED are using IAI Taman of Israel for thermal sights and Tata Power SED’s indigenous ballistics.

The Indian MoD decided to cancel the L-70 tender floated last year because none of the companies offered the tender put in bids. The tender was sent to Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI), Thales, Bumar, Rosoboronoexport and BAE Systems.

In 1995 the L-70 guns were upgraded by state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), which replaced the analogue fire control system with a digital system, DRDO also increased its rate of fire from 240 to 300 rounds per minute.

The Indian Army wants the rate of fire to be increased further to 1000 rounds per minute. In addition, the guns should be able to engage air targets flying at or above speeds of 450/meters/second up to an effective range of at least 4000 meters and altitude of 2500 meters or more.

The successor for the L-70 is proposed to be used for protecting vital areas of tactical importance in the mountains, plains, desert and semi-desert terrains.

The Indian Army requires that the guns should be Modular in design and must facilitate operations both with and without a fire control radar. The gun is intended for use in a towed or mounted on a suitable high mobility vehicle configuration. Primarily the gun will be slaved to a fire control radar which will acquire lock on, track and target, compute the gun data and transmit the same to the gun thereby laying it on the future position of the target.

The Indian Army tried to get the L-70 guns upgraded but finally abandoned the project in favour of replacing the guns by floating the RfP last year. State-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) had aggressively chased the upgrade project.

The tender for upgrading the L-70 guns was issued on July 2005, however, due to re-thinking of the Indian defence ministry to import replacement of these guns had put this upgrade project into stalemate. In January 2008 the Indian Army issued the extension of validity of commercial proposal to submit fresh commercial bids up to 31st July 2009. The upgrade included incorporation of ballistic computer , thermal sights, replacement of hydraulic drives to digital electronic drives. Besides the upgrade sought to impart greater accuracy through an improved electromechanical servo actuation system, a laser rangefinder system to facilitate automatic target tracking. The upgrade also included an electronic fire control system, auto positioning, electronic eye and laser range finder, Thermal imaging sights and night-vision devices.

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