“India does need Ordnance Factory Board because in defence sometimes you have to keep capacities idle only on condition that you have to suddenly ramp it up. It’s very difficult task for a private sector to be kept holding because the interest payment becomes a problem. There is a requirement of Ordinance factory,” he said.
After successfully completing field trials of indigenously-developed howitzer Dhanush, another self-propelled gun 155/52 is in the final stages of being ordered, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Thursday.
The 155mm/45-calibre Dhanush howitzer has been tested and field trials have been completed, he said at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in Gandhinagar.
Also, the ‘Pinaka’ rocket, which used as an area destruction weapon that can virtually decimate 900 square metres of area, has been tested for 65 km range on Thursday, he said.
“That gives a tremendous boost to the capability of the armed forces once it goes in production. So why do we need to get worried about technology beingUS-engineered,” he said.
Indian army has not had a new 155mm artillery gun inducted since the Bofors scandal of 1987. ‘Dhanush’, also known as ‘desi Bofors’, is indigenously-developed 155mm gun with 45 calibre having advanced features with a strike range of 38 km. The towed howitzer ‘Dhanush’ has larger range than 27-km of the imported Bofors.
“India after more than 30 years has successfully developed its own gun. No new artillery gun was introduced for 30 years in the Army. For the first time we have successfully developed and tested, field trial has been completed for Dhanush which is 155/45 Howitzer. Another self-propelled gun, 155/52 is in the final stages of being ordered,” he said.
More than 50 per cent of the components of the self- propelled gun, being made by a joint venture of Larsen & Toubro and Samsung of Korea, are made in India, he said.
“The first lot will be ordered probably in the current financial year. This is one of the Make in India project. It is one step ahead of the Make in India. It is designed, developed and Made in India,” he said.
Stating that India needs “to go a few steps further”, he said these few steps further possibly would come through “a very strategic chapter in DPP (Defence Procurement Procedure, i.e, strategic partner. Which we expect to come out very soon. That will be a game changer for big time manufacturing in India and I expect it to be operational very soon.
Later talking to reporters, Parrikar said Dhanush is a gun manufactured by Ordinance Factory Board. The concept is based on the Bofors gun.
“Bofors gun was 155/39, this is 155/45 and larger range. First six guns have been sent for trial and it has been successfully trialled and so we asked for manufacturing them.”
At the Summit, the minister said there is lot of potential for exports. “For the first time Ordnance items have been identified for private sector manufacturing and we are in the process of finalising the items as well as terms and conditions.”
Initial tender has already been floated and RFI has already been floated and extensive discussion with industry has taken place.
Exports, he said, have grown 3-4 times but it is not adequate.
Parrikar said licensing procedures have been relaxed. “Offsets are piling up at a very fast pace. They are almost more than $8 billion and I expect it to very soon touch $8-10 billion in the next 10 years.”