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By Bulbul Singh

04 Mar 201. India is hunting for a global partner to upgrade its existing ZU 23-2B air defence systems. Global bids for the $300 million contract have been sent to defence companies in Europe, United States and Russia. Around 500 of the 800 ZU-23-2B guns are to be upgraded.

The Indian Army decided to go on a global hunt for the upgrade of the guns after failing to get any fresh replacements for these guns in a tender which was sent to global defence companies in 2007. The tender was ultimately cancelled in 2009 as only Rheinmetall of Germany emerged as the single vendor which resulted in the cancellation.

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 main features of upgrades include replacement of:
*The existing manual laying system with a rugged Electro Optical Fire Control System (EOFCS)
*The existing mechanical gun drives in bearing and elevation to electro -mechanical drives
*Provision of a rugged supply system for functioning of all the gun systems

A standard EOFCS system should provide the electro-optical tracking of aerial targets in all weather conditions and enable delivery of effective fire up to a maximum range of 2500 metres. The EOFCS should have a state-of-the-art day/night camera, a laser range finder and a digital fire control computer.

The electro-mechanical power drive should ensure smooth and accurate movement and lay of the gun in azimuth and elevation; in case of failure of the electro-mechanical power failure, it should be possible to manually lay the gun and carry out target engagement. In addition the upgrade should include built-in test equipment.

The vendor selected will have the responsibility to provide spares and support for the sustenance for a period of 15 years from the last upgrade.

The procurement process will include Technical Evaluation and field trials. The trials evaluation will comprise the User Trials, Technical and Environmental evaluation and Maintainability Evaluation Trial. Commercial offers will be limited to those vendors whose upgraded equipment is short-listed by the Indian army after the trials.

The Indian Army is also on a global hunt to find replacements for its L-70 anti-aircraft guns. Requests for Information have been issued to Rheinmetall Defence of Germany, Rosoboronexport of Russia, Bumar of Poland, BAE Systems of United Kingdom, Otto Malara of Italy, Samsung of South Korea and defence companies in Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Greece.

However, no formal Request for Proposal has been floated for finding replacements and sources in the Indian defence ministry say that the Indian Army may have to resort to upgrade of the L-70 guns as well.

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