* Three guns delivered by Gun Carriage Factory at Jabalpur
* Dhanush guns to be put through user-trials by Army
* Each indigenous gun costs Rs. 14 crore ($2 million)
* 36-gun annual rate of production to be increased to 100
New Delhi: India‘s army has got delivery of three indigenously-developed ‘Dhanush‘ artillery guns for user-trials. Another three Dhanush guns are being readied for delivery shortly.
The Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory handed over the three 155-mm 45-calibre guns to the army recently, its Joint General Manager Sanjay Shrivastava was quoted as saying by a PTI report from Bhopal, carried by Economic Times today.
The Gun Carriage Factory, which works under the Kolkata-headquartered Ordnance Factory Board, has been in existence at least since 1905 under the British rule in India.
Dhanush, a towed howitzer, has a strike range of 38 kilo metre. It was designed from exiting design and documents running into 12,000 pages delivered to India under the first phase of Transfer of Technology as part of the 1986 Swedish Bofors FH-77B gun deal, the report said, citing an unnamed official.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had on April 27, 2015 informed a Parliamentary Consultative Committee of his ministry that the Dhanush had successfully met all technical parameters during the winter and summer trials. He said the gun incorporated several improved features than the guns Army currently possessed.
Following the successful summer and winter trials, when it had fired about 2,000 rounds under different extreme weather and terrain conditions, the army had asked for six guns for user trials.
The Defence Ministry had in March 2013 placed an order for 114 Dhanush guns for Rs. 1,260 crore ($200 million), subject to it clearing the summer and winter trials. This order is to be completed in three years.
The army has estimated that it requires at least 414 of these guns. The Gun Carriage Factory is expected to ramp up production at the rate of 100 guns a year, to complete the order by 2020. At present, the factory produces three guns a month, making it 36 guns-a-year rate of production.
The guns, also nicknamed ‘Desi Bofors‘ by the mainstream media cost Rs. 14 crore ($2 million) a piece. While the imported Bofors guns had a 28-km range, the indigenously produced Dhanush has a 10-km extended range at 38 km.
Bofors (now owned by United Kingodm‘s BAE Systems) could not complete the technology transfer for the 155-mm 39-calibre howitzer after the deal got entangled in a graft allegation involving the then political leadership under the Rajiv Gandhi government in India.
The army has been looking to induct 155-mm howitzers for over a decade now and had roped in Israeli Soltam to upgrade the imported Russian 130-mm guns to 155-mm guns at the Gun Carriage Factory. But that project too had got into rough weather, the report said.
The project to develop the Dhanush from the Bofors designs were kicked off in September 2012. The move had come after India had blacklisted four howitzer firms — Soltam, South African Denel, Singapore Technology Kinetics and German Rheinmetall.
The Indian Army supported the project with technical help from its 506 Army Base Workshop. It also received cooperation from other ordnance factories and public-sector firms such as the Steel Authority of India, Bharat Electronics Limited and several private sector companies.