In a major boost to indigenous defence capabilities, the Indian army has assured the Defence Research and Development Organisation an order for over 140 howitzers once the premier research agency proves its artillery guns which are under development.
DRDO's Pune-based Armament Research and Development Establishment is working on to develop a 155 mm 52 calibre indigenous howitzer for the army.
The DRDO was recently told by the army that it will place an order for over 140 artillery howitzers if the guns being developed by the research agency are proven in field trials and are ready for induction, sources told PTI.
This proposal made by the Army to the DRDO was also a part of the presentation made to Defence Minister A K Antony while he was reviewing the preparedness of army's Corps of Artillery, which has not been able to induct even a single piece of howitzer for over 25 years after the Bofors gun deal scam broke out in the 80s.
During the presentation, the defence minister was also informed about the progress made in the development of Bofors guns being produced indigenous by the Ordnance Factory Board.
The trial of the OFB guns was done recently in the Pokhran firing ranges in presence of senior officials from the army, which has already placed an order for 100 of these guns.
The defence ministry has recently approved the procurement of 145 Ultra Light Howitzers from the US under a Foreign Military Sales route for being deployed in high altitude areas.
A deal for these guns is expected to be signed by the end of this fiscal and one they start getting inducted, they will be the first ones to join the army in over two decades. 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.