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''Desi Bofors'' to be first showcased in R-Day parade

India's indigenous, long-range artillery gun 'Dhanush'. Photo: MoD

BHOPAL (PTI): India's first indigenous, long-range artillery gun 'Dhanush', aka 'Desi Bofors', will be showcased for the first time at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi.

Manufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), the 155-mm gun cost about Rs 14.50 crore a piece.

" 'Dhanush' will be displayed to showcase defence power at the Republic Day function in New Delhi," GCF's Joint General Manager and PRO Sanjay Shrivastava told PTI on Sunday.

'Dhanush' is comparable to the latest weapon systems used by different countries, another official said.

Besides features like electronic gun-laying and sighting systems, the indigenous gun has a strike range of 38 km, which is 11 km more than the imported Bofors guns.

"The 'Dhanush' project has received support and active cooperation from other ordinance factories and PSUs such as SAIL, BEL, and many private sector companies. Their support has made the project a huge success," the official said.

The gun, a towed howitzer, has been developed by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Kolkata, after going through the design and documents running into over 12,000 pages which were given to India under the first phase of 'Transfer of Technology' (ToT) as part of the Bofors gun deal in the late 1980s.

The Swedish Bofors company (now owned by Britain's BAE System) could not complete the ToT for the 155-mm howitzer with 39 calibre to India as the deal got embroiled in a major political row over alleged kickbacks.

Subsequently, OFB struggled for long to produce the howitzer indigenously despite the fact that it has manufactured and supplied several components or spare parts to keep the Bofors howitzers operational in India, especially during the Kargil War.

The army had been desperately looking for 155-mm howitzers for more than a decade now. It had roped in an Israeli company, Soltam, to upgrade the imported, Russian-made 130-mm gun to 155-mm at GCF. But the project, after the upgraded gun's trial, ran into hot water, the official claimed.

Five years ago, the Defence Acquisition Council had decided to look for artillery guns within the country and asked OFB to start manufacturing howitzers.

Towards that end, former Defence Minister A K Antony flagged off a 155-mm gun manufacturing facility at GCF on September 22, 2012.

The over a century-old GCF has already delivered six 'Dhanush' guns to the Army which has been extensively trying these in snowy, desert and hostile areas in the country, he said.

The army had been looking for a total of 114 'Dhanush' guns from GCF to augment its firepower.

According to the official, the army needs a huge number of howitzers of different types, and Indian firms, some with the help of foreign manufacturers, are in the race to fulfill the demand with the gun's variants.

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