Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Unsuccessful For 20 Years, Indian Army Again Hunts For Mounted Gun System For Artillery Units

The Indian Army has issued a fresh request for information (RFI) to acquire the Mounted Gun System (MGS) for its artillery units, which would supplement and improvise their shoot-and-scoot and rapid-fire capabilities.

The Army has been trying to procure a 155mm/52-caliber MGS for about 20 years, with the first request for proposals (RFP) floated in February 2002. While this did not yield any results, the government withdrew the previous RFP and re-issued it more than a decade later, in June 2013.

This time again, it hit obstacles and the service sought a fresh acceptance-of-necessity (AoN) from the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by then-Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in 2018.

The latest RFI, which has been reviewed by The Eurasian Times, calls for vendors to supply 155/52 caliber artillery guns. These are howitzers mounted on a truck for easy transportation. They provide for ‘shoot and scoot’ capability, where the guns fire at the enemy from one location and then relocate to another to avoid counter-battery fire and detection from enemy surveillance teams.

They also provide for a very effective boost in the firepower for the infantry columns in different environments. According to the document, the MGS will be “employed in plains, mountains, semi-desert and desert terrain for the execution of Artillery tasks”.

It also requires for the system to be able to fire all types of in-service ammunition, and should have an inertial navigation system (INS)-based sight system with the capability to orient and fixing the location of the gun system.

The fire control system (FCS) should be able to provide day-and-night direct and indirect firing. The FCS has to be compatible with Project SHAKTI, a computerized combat command, and control system to integrate the artillery weapon operations. The vendor would also have to take a 5 percent offset in the deal and the system should have a minimum of 50 percent indigenous content.

The Indian Army’s artillery modernization process had virtually stalled since the acquisition of the Haubitus FH-77 Bofors guns in the 1980s until the government took up the work seriously in the past few years. Private players entered the field and were given more freedom to develop joint production facilities under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. 

However, the Army is still stuck with testing these systems, seldom hampered by faulty ammunition leading to barrel burst incidents. The Bofors guns had proved good during the 1999 Kargil war and subsequently, the Army drafted a Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan to acquire around 3,000 pieces of 155 mm weaponry, including tracked self-propelled guns, truck-mounted gun systems, towed artillery pieces, and wheeled self-propelled guns over next two decades.

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