NEW DELHI — India’s homegrown 155mm/45-caliber gun has taken a hit following a row of failed trials for over three months by the Indian Army, according a top source in the army.
“The Dhanush 155mm/45-caliber artillery gun has failed on three occasions in a row in the last three months when the shell of the gun hit the muzzle brake in one of the six prototype guns currently undergoing user trials,” the Indian Army source said.
Analysts say the failed trials are not a major setback but can postpone the induction program of the gun.
The Dhanush 155mm/45-caliber artillery gun is being upgraded indigenously by the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board, or OFB, based on original drawings of the Swedish 155mm/39-caliber Bofors howitzers, which India procured in the mid-1980s.
“This [hitting of the muzzle brake] should not be a setback if early evaluation is carried out and modifications made,” said Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst.
On the failure of the recent trial of the gun, Bhonsle said, ”Shells hitting the muzzle brake could be due to a number of reasons such as overexploitation of the munitions, overcharging of the munitions and so on or even faulty ammunition; all of these aspects will have to be evaluated.”
Another Indian Army official said that at best, the latest incidents can postpone the induction of the 114 Dhanush guns ordered by the army at a cost of $2 billion.
The first batch of 18 guns are slotted to be inducted this year, another 36 guns in 2018 and 60 guns in 2019, completing the initial order.
The range of the upgraded guns has increased from 27km to 40km by the OFB.
Strongly advocating to go ahead with the Dhanush gun, Bhonsle said, “The army has plans for 414 quantity of Dhanush, and the army must sustain the orders rather than vacillating, as improvements can be undertaken on lot basis.”
The Indian Army has a demand for a variety of 155mm caliber guns worth over $6 billion as it plans to change all the artillery regiments into howitzer guns.
In another incident involving the Dhanush gun, India’s premier investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, or CBI, has registered a case against New Delhi-based company Sidh Sales Syndicate for supplying Chinese-manufactured bearings for Dhanush, passing them off as being made by CRB Antriebstechnik of Germany.
CBI has registered cases against some unknown officials of the OFB’s Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory, or GCF, which is manufacturing the Dhanush guns.
Interestingly, internal tests of GCF confirmed that the bearings were not up to the mark because of manufacturing defects but were cleared as a special case.
The charges relate to alleged criminal conspiracy to acquire six sets of counterfeit bearings between December 2013 and August 2014.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.