Indian soldiers load an artillery gun during the 'Operation Desert Strike' exercise. Trials are continuing to upgrade all Army howitzers. (Agence France-Presse)
NEW DELHI — India’s homemade 155mm/45 caliber gun, which failed last year’s summer trials when a barrel burst while firing, has successfully completed winter trials and is cleared for summer trials, an official of the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) said.
The winter trials were completed early this month after the gun’s barrel was rebuilt, the OFB official said.
OFB is attempting to upgrade the howitzer, bought in the late 1980s from Bofors of Sweden, based on drawings supplied by the company under a technology-transfer agreement. The upgrade from 39 to 45 caliber was launched by OFB three years ago after the Indian Army failed to procure any howitzers through open competition. The procurement process had to be stopped on several occasions because of corruption allegations against competing overseas defense companies.
The Army has already ordered 114 of the guns. An Army official said the upgrade by OFB appeared “shaky” last year when the barrel burst during trials.
“We will doubly check the gun in summer trials,” the official said.
The Army has been unable to buy any howitzers since 1987 despite efforts formalized in 1999 to convert all existing artillery to 155mm/52 caliber guns, for a cost of more than $6 billion.