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Cassidian
APRIL-2013 ISSUE
Force Magazine

 Down the Barrel
 Artillery modernisation needs to go hand in hand with ammunition manufacturing facilities
 

By Atul Chandra

BOFORS FH-77BThe most crucial modernisation programme of the Indian Army (IA) is that of the revamp of its artillery assets. Unfortunately, this is going to have to wait quite a while longer before it has any hope of getting the modern artillery systems it needs. With the slowdown in the economy and budget cuts, it will now be only towards the end of this decade that the army will have a substantial number of new artillery systems with its regiments.

As of now almost all the artillery acquisitions have ground to a halt. The requirements as they stand currently are for 1,580 - 155mm/52 calibre towed guns (400 Buy and 1180 Make); 100 - 155mm/52 calibre tracked guns; 180 - 155mm/52 calibre, wheeled and self-propelled guns. The last major artillery acquisition being around 400 numbers of the then Bofors FH 77B gun more than two and a half decades ago.

The army now seems to be on course to receive the highly capable BAE Systems M777 155mm/39 calibre ultra-light howitzers from the US (FMS route) by 2014. The letter of acceptance for the guns is due to be issued any time now and maintenance evaluation teams have already been to US. The procedure to acquire these guns began in 2008 and will equip five artillery regiments.

It is world’s first 155mm howitzer weighing less than 4218 kg (10,000 lbs) and was selected by the US Marine Corps and US Army as their next generation Medium Force weapon and designated M777. In comparison, the more than two and a half decade old Bofors FH77 B in the Indian Army weighs 11,500 kg. The M777 can fire shells and achieve ranges of 24.7 km (unassisted) and in excess of 30 km (assisted). The gun has seen extensive combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and has performed very well. It was designed to be airlifted onboard the C-17, C-130J aircraft and the CH-47D Chinook helicopter.

 
 
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