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By Bulbul Singh

04 Jan 13. Unable to clinch deals in open competition for India’s $4 billion 155mm/52 calibre gun for over ten years, overseas defence majors have tied up with domestic companies to take advantage of the ‘homemade’ tag as the Indian defence ministry is now encouraging the domestic defence industry. Last month Tata Power SED, a private sector defence major, sprung a surprise by unveiling an indigenous 155mm/52 calibre mountain gun. The companywill not give names of the overseas collaborators but says the indigenous content is as much as 50 per cent. There is a requirement of 814 mountain 155mm/52 calibre guns and Tata Power SED hopes to compete keenly in future tenders for the gun.

In 2005 Denel of South Africa and Singapore Technologies, in 2009, were blacklisted on charges of bribery. Both companies were front runners in India’s gun programme in the Towed and Wheeled gun tenders. Claiming capability to manufacture the 155mm/52 calibre mountain gun, an official of Tata Power SED said the company has been associated with the homemade Pinaka Multi-barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRL) and have learnt about structures, recoil shocks and Fire Control Systems. Tata Power SED has also been associated in the design and development of 105mm Mounted Gun systems, the Upgrade of L-70 Air Defence Guns and design of indigenous Ballistic Computer for T-90 Tanks for which the company used in-house homegrown Ballistic Software claimed the company official.

A defence ministry official said preference will be given to indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment, adding that whenever the Indian industry is not in a position to make and deliver the equipment as per the Staff Qualitative Requirements in the requisite time frame, procurement from foreign sources would be resorted to. Meanwhile Bharat Forge and Larsen& Toubro have also forged alliances with overseas partners to design and develop 155mm/52
calibre guns. An executive of Bharat Forge said, they are aiming to make 155mm 52 caliber towed gun in Pune. The technology has been developed within the company with the help of outside experts of East European countries. Bharat Forge has been supplying ammunition shells to the army. Apart from that, the company manufactures barrels for 155mm 39 calibre guns. The company has also supplied around 30,000 wheels for T-72/90 tanks to the Indian Army. Also special alloy and titanium products for the armed forces are developed and supplied by the company, added the executive. DRDO is also developing a homemade 155mm/52 calibre gun. According to DRDO, the 155mm gun it plans to develop at the Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) in Pune will have improved firepower to achieve first salvo effectiveness at longer ranges, higher accuracy and enhanced survivability are the primary requirements for this gun system. Efforts are being made to develop new technologies for weapon platforms, automation and control systems, recoil management, materials, etc., to achieve improved weapon
performance claimed a DRDO scientist.

The DRDO laboratories that are part of the gun development include the Instruments Research and Development Establishment (IRDE), Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE), Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) and DRDO HQ in Delhi.

An executive of the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said, in the long run the competition for the gun should only be from the domestic producers and not theoverseas companies. The Indian Army’s requirement for 155mm/52 calibre guns include 100 Tracked Self-Propelled Guns, up gunning of 300 130mm guns to 155mm guns, 1800 Towed guns, Wheeled SP guns and the Ultra Light Howitzer guns for which BAE has been selected via FMS.

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