Trials of indigenized howitzer to continue till early 2016



New Delhi: The indigenized and advanced version of Bofors 155mm howitzer is headed for more trials before it is finally inducted in the Indian Army, informed sources said.

The sources told IANS that the 155/45mm calibre Dhanush gun, which was found satisfactory in the trials last year, is now undergoing confirmatory trials which are likely to end by early 2016. The Dhanush is a modified version of the Bofors howitzers that India bought in mid-1980s. It underwent winter trial in 2013-14 and summer trials in 2014.

While the trials were satisfactory, the army suggested some minor changes, an official said.

“The trials were largely satisfactory. But there were minor things pointed out that would make the gun more suitable for the army’s use,” a senior officer told IANS on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

“The changes have been made, and summer trials are on,” the official said, adding that the winter trials will also be repeated.

Equipment like artillery guns undergo different trials, including that for extreme climates and altitude, with India home to both high mountains and deserts along its borders with China and Pakistan.

The official said once all user trials are complete, the army will initially induct 114 guns.

The order is expected to be valued at around Rs. 1,260 crore (close to $200 million)and the guns are expected to be manufactured by Jabalpur’s Gun Carriage Factory.

The Dhanush prototype suffered a barrel burst during firing trials at Pokhran last August.

An officer, however, said the fault lay not in the gun but in the ammunition.

The blueprints for the Bofors gun were were provided by the Swedish company to India as part of the purchase of 410 FH-77 howitzers in 1986.

The modifications include an auxiliary power unit and electronic sights.

The Indian Army has not acquired artillery guns in the almost three decades since 1986.