BEML’s Artillery Gun to Undergo Field Trials

By admin • September 30th, 2010

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Indian Defence Online, New Delhi — After a spate of scrapped tenders and trials for the Indian Army’s artillery gun, defence public sector undertaking Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) has announced that it is ready with the indigenous 155mm, 52-calibre wheeled gun.

BEML has been made the nodal processing agency and the Indian government has permitted BEML to invite global tenders for the 155mm guns and the proposed contract for over 1,000 guns, besides other ranges of artillery guns including Howitzers. The estimated worth of these contracts is 20,000 crore.

The Indian Army has been desperately short of artillery firepower and a long-range state-of-the-art gun has been due for two decades since the Bofors gun controversy in the 1980s. The Indian Army’s 180-odd artillery gun regiments, each having 18 guns, have not received any new weaponry since the Bofors gun was bought in the late 1980s.

The selection of a suitable 155 mm, 52-calibre towed howitzer to fill this gap began only in 2002, when the Defence Ministry began evaluating three guns from BAE Systems, Israeli firm Soltam and Denel of South Africa. The five rounds of trials, conducted in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006, reached no conclusion. While Denel was blacklisted for corruption in September 2005, the other two guns did not meet the Indian Army’s standards. Following this failure, a new tender was issued in 2008. However, in July this year, the defence ministry scrapped the trials since the gun of only one contender, BAE Systems, was left in the process after the other firm; Singapore Technology Kinetics (STK) was named in the alleged Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) scam.

Finally, the state-owned BEML has offered a ray of hope to the Indian Army and a chance to fill the operational void in its artillery. The 155 mm 52-calibre wheeled gun will give the much needed boost in the lethality of the Indian Army and will be faster, lighter and will have increased firepower. The high-precision gun is part of a technology transfer between a Slovakian company, DMD and BEML. The BEML tie-up with DMD of Slovakia is a defence offset.

BEML officials indicated that field trials have already started at its testing tracks in the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), Karnataka. They added that the time frame for delivery is about three years from the date of order by the defence forces and BEML is expecting order from this year itself. BEML is also envisaging the creation of the tracked version of the same gun which will enhance fire power and a world-class test track as well as a firing range has been created too.

BEML is the biggest Original equipment manufacturer of defence land systems in India. BEML premier Rs. 3000 crore Indian PSU engaged in the design, development, manufacture and marketing of varied defence equipment like Heavy Duty 4X4, 6X6, 8X8, and 10X10 Trucks, Trailers, Heavy Recovery Vehicles, Armoured Recovery Vehicles, Crash Fire Tenders, Weapon Loading Systems and PMS Bridge System apart from earthmoving and construction equipment and rail and metro equipment.

Source: India Defence Online

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