The Tata group is to unveil India’s first indigenously developed 155 mm howitzer in New Delhi on Monday.
The 155/52 mm howitzer is mounted on an eight-wheeled Tata truck for enhanced mobility. The gun was developed by its defence subsidiary Tata Power Strategic Electronics Division (SED) this year. The ‘mounted gun system’ can fire a six-round salvo on a target 40 km away in less than three minutes.
The truck-mounted howitzer will be displayed at an army seminar at the Maneckshaw centre tomorrow. The rollout comes even as the Indian Army and the Ministry of Defence have struggled to import howitzers over the past 25 years.
The Army acquired its last howitzers over 25 years ago, 410 FH-77B howitzers from AB Bofors of Sweden in 1987. Since then, the army’s howitzer arsenal has been critically depleted.
Tata Power SED, the defence arm of the $ 100 billion Tata group, began work on its ‘Mounted Gun Project’ over two years ago. The prototype gun was rolled out of the Tata Power SED facility in Bangalore’s electronic city this October. It will spearhead the group’s bid for the Army’s requirement for 814 mounted gun systems for Rs.8500 crore.
The Tata gun is India’s first new howitzer since its purchase of Bofors guns. The subsequent bribery scandal torpedoed the acquisition of additional howitzers from Sweden.
The Bofors howitzers performed spectacularly in the Kargil conflict of 1999. The Indian Army wants to buy over 2200 such howitzers in five different categories but has been unable to do so because of other bribery scandals involving firms like Rheinmetall, Singapore Technologies Kinetics, Soltam and Denel.