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Land Warfare

PREMIUM: Indian Army seeks 155mm howitzers and T-90S protection

15th April 2021 - 19:00 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Christchurch

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The Ordnance Factory Board has developed a 155mm truck-mounted howitzer. (Gordon Arthur)

The Indian Army makes moves to select its first ever truck-mounted howitzers, plus it recognises the need to protect its T-90S tank fleet.

Earlier this year, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) concluded production of 100 K9 Vajra-T SPHs. Now the Indian Army has manifested a desire for additional 155mm L/52 SPHs via an RfI issued on 1 April.

The RfI for a Mounted Gun System does not equivocally state that it should be tracked or wheeled platform, but a careful reading of the document indicates that a truck-mounted howitzer is being sought.

The tender document asks vendors questions such as whether the vehicle is right-hand drive, has a central tyre inflation system, anti-lock brakes and whether the ‘driver cabin and crew cabin are capable of operating in a nuclear, biological and chemical environment’.

Specifically, the RfI asks ‘whether the gun system is based on a 6x6 or 8x8 vehicle’.

Shephard reported in 2016 that the Indian Army required some 814 Mounted Gun Systems of 155mm 52-calibre. Indeed, the Defence Acquisition Council approved a budget of $2.5 billion in November 2014, but little formal progress has occurred since then.

In its preamble, the RfI explains: ‘Regiments are to be equipped with Mounted Gun Systems to provide matching mobility for high-intensity operations with mechanised forces. The proposed 155mm/52-calibre Mounted Gun System will be employed in plains, mountains, high-altitude areas, semi-desert and desert terrain along the northern and western borders of the country for execution of artillery tasks.’

The Mobile Gun System should be capable of day/night direct and indirect firing.

The document said it hoped to identify ‘Indian vendors who can undertake the said project’. Following submissions from vendors by 9 June, the Indian MoD will issue an RfP soliciting technical and commercial offers. After that, a trial evaluation of contenders will occur in India.

It is unclear who might compete, but L&T previously told Shephard that it might offer a K9 turret on a wheeled chassis. Nexter will presumably seek to offer its CAESAR, and the French company has previously teamed with L&T, perhaps using an Ashok Leyland truck chassis. BAE Systems has previously highlighted its Archer at bygone DefExpo exhibitions, and Elbit Systems is sure to be interested as well.

Finally, the list would not be complete without one of the Indian public sector units making a pitch. The state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) showed a 155mm L/52 howitzer mounted on a Tatra T815 8x8 chassis at DefExpo 2018 (pictured at top). Featuring a rear stabiliser, the vehicle carries 18 ammunition rounds for an auto-laying gun possessing a 39km range. An OFB representative at the show said the Indian Army was ‘showing interest’.

A T-90S tank of the Indian Army. (Gordon Arthur)

Meanwhile, on 13 April, the Indian MoD issued an EoI for modular protection and countermeasure systems for T-90S/SK MBTs. The Indian Army seeks a ‘combination of hard-kill and soft-kill measures to detect and then degrade/defeat incoming hostile projectiles to enhance its ...

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