After accidents during the final phase of user exploitation trials, the induction of the Dhanush artillery gun into the Army has been delayed.
The Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish 155-mm Bofors howitzers, which India procured in the mid-1980s, based on its original designs.
“There were two accidents in May and July during user exploitation trials. A Board of Inquiry is under way to determine the cause of the incident. As part of it, there will be an investigative firing likely to take place next month,” a defence official said.
The upgrade is being done by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) based on the requirements of the Army. To a query from The Hindu, the Board said that the Army was satisfied with the Dhanush gun, but before accepting it, wanted to do a wider exploitation of six guns prior to the grant of the bulk production clearance.
“So far, the exploitations have been carried out satisfactorily in the Pokhran and Babina field firing ranges and the Leh high-altitude range with three guns at each location. Further, these six guns altogether were fired at Pokhran in May 2017 and July 2017. Defects in the muzzle brake have been found in two guns and investigations are under process,” U. Mukherjee, OFB spokesperson, said in a written reply.
Dr. Mukherjee said these six guns would be further offered to the Army for balance user exploitations likely by February-March 2018, after carrying out internal firings. “It is expected that BPC [bulk production clearance] will be accorded immediately after completion of the user exploitations,” he said.
Dhanush is a 155-mm, 45-calibre gun with a maximum range of 40 km in salvo mode compared to the 39-calibre, 27-km range of the original guns. “The user exploitation trials are almost over. They will be inducted in 2018,” another official said.
The Army, which has not inducted any new artillery guns since the Bofors guns, is keen on inducting Dhanush. Other deals too are in the pipeline.
A project management team is working on this project at the Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur, and the Army has decided not to shift its personnel till the project is complete.
“To ensure continuity of the project, approval from the Vice-Chief was taken for continuity of personnel till 2020.”
The Army has placed an initial order for 114 guns and is expected to order another 400 more. As per earlier plan, the first regiment with 18 guns was to be inducted by 2017-end and the remaining guns in batches of 36 and 60 by 2019.
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