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India developing indigenous artillery guns

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NEW DELHI (PTI): With the army failing to induct new artillery guns in the last 25 years, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has started developing an indigenous 155mm 52 calibre howitzer for the armed forces.

"Armament Research and Development Establishment (DRDO's lab) in Pune is working on developing indigenous artillery guns," DRDO chief V K Saraswat told reporters here.

He said the work on these guns has been on for quite some time now but the agency was "lying low" and focusing on other programmes.

"The laboratory is working on advanced metallurgy for the barrels of the howitzer and is looking at an increased rate of fire in it. We are hoping to complete the development in another four years time," the DRDO chief said.

Asked if there was any specific request from the armed forces to produce the guns, a senior DRDO official said after the Bofors gun deal in 1986, no gun has been inducted in service and it was felt that the Army would need such a gun.

DRDO had earlier developed the 105 mm field artillery guns for the Army and is still in operational service.

DRDO had started working on the development of the Bhim self-propelled howitzer about a decade back but the project was virtually scrapped after South African firm Denel was blacklisted by the ministry.

Despite several attempts, cancellation of tenders due to various reasons has not allowed the army to induct any new artillery gun in the last 25 years after the controversy surrounding the Bofors guns snow-balled into a big political issue.

Talking about the developments in the advanced version of the Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT) programme, he said, "We are looking to test-fire a missile from its canon and demonstrate that capability by next year."

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