BAE-Mahindras apprehend retendering for 155 mm towed guns: "Rs 8000 cr artillery gun tender might fail again" - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 16 July 2010

BAE-Mahindras apprehend retendering for 155 mm towed guns: "Rs 8000 cr artillery gun tender might fail again"

A crew of seven Punj Lloyd gunners fire the Singapore Technologies IFH-2000 gun. STK has requested for range time in Pokhran to calibrate their gun with the Indian ammunition that will be used in trials.

STK crews load their gun into an aircraft to be flown out for trials. STK has offered India an upgraded FH-2000, the first production 52 calibre, 155 mm gun in military service anywhere.

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 16th July 10

After 8 years of tenders and trials, the army’s search for an artillery gun --- its most critical weakness --- remains mired in uncertainty. The Central Bureau of Investigation continues to probe Singapore Technologies Kinetic (STK), one of the two companies vying to sell India a modern 155 millimeter towed howitzer, even though no charges have been brought against STK after 18 months of investigation. And with the CBI recommending the formal blacklisting of STK, its rival --- UK-headquartered BAE Systems, in partnership with the Mahindras --- fears that the tender might be scrapped and the process begun anew.

Brigadier Khutab Hai, CEO of the Mahindra Group’s Defence Land Systems India --- which will manufacture some 55% of BAE Systems’ FH-77B-05 howitzer if it is chosen for the Indian Army --- told Business Standard, “If STK is blacklisted, I apprehend that the MoD might entirely scrap the tender for towed howitzers, on the grounds that there is now just a single vendor. But, remember, three companies had bid in this tender: Rheinmetall; STK and BAE Systems. Even if the other two are eliminated for various reasons, this was never a single vendor situation.”

German gun maker, Rheinmetall, had been eliminated after the MoD had discovered, during technical evaluation of the bids, that it was partnering banned South African company, Denel. STK ran into problems with the May 09 arrest of Sudipta Ghosh, former chairman of India’s Ordnance Factories Board (OFB), for allegedly demanding and accepting illegal gratification from foreign companies, including STK. And BAE Systems itself is in a delicate position: its FH-77B-05 howitzer is built by Bofors, which is now a part of BAE Systems after a series of mergers and takeovers.

At stake in this tender, which was issued in 2008, is an order worth US $1.8 billion (Rs 8000 crores) for the outright supply of 400 towed guns; and the licensed production in India of another 1180 guns. If the MoD imposes even the minimum offset requirement of 30%, that would translate into US $540 million (Rs 2400 crores) worth of manufacture within India.

MoD sources tell Business Standard that, if a fresh tender were to be issued today, at least two other guns --- one Russian and the other Slovak --- would enter the fray.

For now, both guns in the fray --- STK’s Indian Field Howitzer-2000, or IFH-2000; and the BAE Systems FH-77-05 --- are in the Pokhran Field Firing Ranges, in Rajasthan, for trials. Despite its ban on STK, the MoD has allowed the IFH-2000 to participate in trials, with the award of any contract being conditional on the CBI clearing STK’s name.

The hot-weather trials, which were to begin in May, have been progressively delayed since STK has requested for time to calibrate its gun with the Indian ammunition that will be used in the trials. In February, the trials had been postponed to May after the STK IFH-2000 had met with an accident while being loaded on an aircraft for transportation to India.

Despite not having filed a charge sheet against STK, the CBI insists it has strong evidence. On 30th June 10, while charge sheeting Ghosh, the CBI announced that a “Letter Rogatory (an official questionnaire for obtaining evidence in trans-national investigations) has been issued by the Special Judge, CBI, Kolkata, to the Central Authority in the Republic of Singapore. The said LR is pending execution."

The CEO of STK, Brigadier General Patrick Choy, tells Business Standard, “STK has, from the beginning, cooperated fully with the investigation. When requested by the CBI last year, I came to Delhi and answered their questions. Last year, we invited the CBI to Singapore for an investigation, and to audit our books if they liked. That offer still holds.”

The Indian Army’s artillery modernisation plan has remained stalled, for various reasons, for over two decades. The army’s 180-odd artillery gun regiments --- each having 18 guns --- have not received any new weaponry since the Bofors gun was bought in the late 1980s.

The selection of a suitable 155 mm, 52-calibre towed howitzer to fill this gap began in summer 2002, when the MoD began evaluating three guns from BAE Systems; Israeli firm, Soltam; and South African company, Denel. Five rounds of trials, conducted in 2002; 2003; 2004; and 2006; reached no conclusion: while Denel was blacklisted for corruption in Sep 05; the other two guns did not meet the army’s standards. Following this failure, the current tender was issued in 2008.


  1. i read in BR that Denel was falsely implicated by a small time south african news paper run by a person of pakistan origin!~!!! Based on that pice of info only has Denel got blacklisted!!! This way MOD has to fear it own shadow!!!! shame on us.

  2. Some people must be thinking that Indian artilleries are hitting themselves with circular shots, than pounding the enemies with parabolic shots.

    This is called going round in the circles.

  3. Chinese are producing 155mm 52 cal SP guns for their military for years now.

    I think you are wrong to state India will get these first guns in military production anywhere in world.

  4. This circus will go on and on with no purchase. It's better that the Army and DRDO get together and start making guns. May be it will take five years but still will be faster than the current procurement of foreign systems. The Indian gun can be developed in stages and improved upon over a period of time. That seems better.

  5. There is almost always something rotten in any of our purchases. So how is that the problem of the gun itself? Punish the people(from our side), not the equipment. Companies just want to do business with us. Whether we keep it ethical or not is our choice.
    Just make sure that ToT is maximum and of relevant technologies, the price is accordingly optimum, operating sovereignity is satisfied and operational costs are least.

    When all choices have equal pros and cons, the worst thing to do is delay. Pick one choice fast and reduce the delay

  6. Yawn! Congress needs to seriously bury it's past and think about national security.

  7. Perfect Posting , by canceling each and every thing doesn't make any sense , it will just weak our preparedness. it cannot be consider to be single tender . The culprits should be punished , but no use of punishing india each and every time .
    Naturally our two good neighbors are very strong in ground forces , so india need to go in fastrack .

    Does FMS route is only belongs to america .

  8. nobody cares when India will go to war once again we'll have to withdraw guns from strike formations.Netaji and babuji don't care about the soldier their son study in USA bloddy MOFO.The lack of gun seriously impinges national security yet noone seems to be bothered.

  9. Ajai sir It looks to me anything related to Bofors is creating a scarecrow situation in Govt of India.

    By the Way I have some questions, will be glad if you answer them

    Q1. The 52 calibre guns taken for trails, fires heavier shells. So just how much heavy are these shells from the 39 calibre ones, and what will be there the range compared to the 39s on a/c of weight.
    Q2. Some reports say 52 calibre guns are ideally suited for coastal batteries, with only a few countries including Singapore (effectively a city state surrounded by water) having opted for these. So is it really viable for India to try these 52s.
    Q3. If order is placed by 2012, by when we can except the deliveries to start.
    Q4. Since these 52s will fire heavier shells, wont it need reworking the metallurgy at OFB units with regard to fuse, arti shell and explosives.
    Q5. Will it result in revival of the BHIM Project.

  10. here we go again the same old story. is mr antony running a circus or the defence mininstry? why does he not blacklist himself and his incompetent ministry after so many scams? he has reduced our army to among the weakest in the world

  11. Kangress is destroying our country with its idiotic policies. This is much needed, critical equipment. Delaying it over and over will only make us more and more vulnerable to porkistan and the chinks.

  12. Being a very important job, the things must be expedited judiciously, rather than waiting for arrival for this new design:

    This twin barrel design can be adopted in a futuristic JV if found feasible.

  13. If US is sanctions crazy, this is beyond crazy. Why not ban OFB for demanding and accepting illegal gratification? Self hurting means like emposing a ban on foreign entities is an eazy way to escape through investigations which could bring culprits on both sides to book.

  14. Its same dilly dallying that the so called defence minister did as Kerala's CM -- the ostrich attitude of putting head in ground to let the difficulties pass.

    Kerala today is jihadist's heaven and not god's (recent hand cuttting incident is an pointer) and the roots were laid in antony's time by adopting ostrich attitude.

    Same will go in this events also. until and unless pak / china attacks army is not going to get guns (thats for sure)

  15. We have enough artillerry. DON T WORRY. What is not announced in Indian Armed forces DOES NOT mean that it does not EXIST.
    1. Indian army is 1.13 million in size .No it is much more.
    2. IAF has only 32 squadrons .No much more.
    3.Navy has 15 submarines.No

    Similarly this artillerry "hulla gulla"

  16. Gents,

    I am amazed how the so called peace loving people of india are constantly calling for war.

    There isn't going to be any war, if there is one, you people will be leaving india faster than rats leave a sinking ship!!!

    The next war (if its really a war) will be nuclear. Make no mistake about it. Next time you post, think what it means.

  17. Why is it always assumed that all INTELLIGENT people in this country are outside the government.

    AND WHY IS IT ASSUMED THAT in the Ministry of Defence and Armed forces, there are only IRRESPONSIBLE AND FOOLISH PEOPLE

    We have two enemies who openly DEMAND OUR LAND.
    If we were so weak they would have taken what they want

  18. Is MoD planning to scrap this tender and go for M777? Depending on IA's needs one of the things to consider between M777 & FH-77 B05 is range. While M777 is light-weight and very well proven, its effective range is 40 km (with Excalibur) where as FH 77 can reach up to 60 km. Also if this gets scrapped, shouldn't MoD opt for self-propelled FH77 BW L52 (Archer) for our rugged terrain? Ideally lets have all three variants! (Yea, yea day-dreaming is no crime,I know !)

  19. @MMertz
    First of all, peace loving does not mean standing idle while there is injustice going on all around you. Have you not heard the saying "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" ?

    You are free to do as you wish, but I as well as millions of Indians are willing to die for her. So we will not be "leaving like rats on a sinking ship", this is possibly a description of yourself more than anything.

    @anon of 19 July 2010 19:09
    Noone is assuming stupid people are in power. We are merely stating facts, which you might want to dismiss. If you believe we are strong simply because noone has "attacked" us openly, you are completely mistaken. It is a known fact that Pakistan's ISI is waging a war against us in Kashmir and NE of India using guerilla tactics. Meanwhile, China has occupied more and more territory in the NE (In the past 10 years, they have "moved" the border 50km within India). If you do not believe these are attacks, you should sit in your room and smoke more of that stuff that you like so much.

    It is foolish thinking like this that cost us land in Kashmir and the loss against China in 1962. Of course you are free to think what you wish and live in an dream world where none of this is happening.

    Did you know that india is the ONLY country in the world to give up land it has WON in a war?? So please don't tell me there are no "intelligent" people in our govt. Unfortunately, it is filled with spineless pathetic morons.

    The armed forces are doing a job as best they can under the circumstances. Our politicos are making it ever harder for them.

  20. Chan Akya says, "Meanwhile, China has occupied more and more territory in the NE (In the past 10 years, they have "moved" the border 50km within India).

    Chan Akya, are you just a moron or have you been smoking something? Even the stupidest person I know would think before making a statement like that.

    I've just come back from a year on the Sino-Indian border and you'll be happy to hear that things are just the same as they were when I was posted there as a soldier in 1986.

    Chan Akya further avers: "Did you know that india is the ONLY country in the world to give up land it has WON in a war??"

    Even the most dim-witted kid who reads only Commando Comics knows that Russian, American and British forces captured the whole of Europe by mid-1945... and then withdrew to their borders across hundreds (and in the case of the US, thousands) of kilometers.

  21. Mr Shukla,
    It is a pity you resort to name calling. Anyhow, If you notice, I have provided a link that states the LAC has "moved" 50km into India. Now I don't know how true it is, but it has been published in many places.

    If what you say is indeed true, I am very pleased and glad to hear it. Perhaps you should publish an article that rebuffs the BJP claim. So the "person" you want to call "stupid" is the BJP, not me Mr. Shukla. Perhaps you should dig deeper and see if there is any truth to it. I will leave that to you.

    Regarding your statements about the Americans and Russians returning land.. those were "conquered" territories and not recaptured territories. India returned land it won in Kashmir (which "belongs" to India, at least that's the official claim). If you believe that this is the same as what other countries did in the past, then I take it you believe Kashmir doesn't really belong to India.

    I am not interested in playing the mud slinging game. If you want to tell me I am wrong, please do so in a courteous manner. If you furnish proof for what you say, you do not need to resort to name-calling.

  22. Here is another example of an "attack".

    Though it should be noted that the article states that BDR is trying to encroach land, not that it has. Nevertheless a strong message should be sent through official channels stating this sort of behaviour will not be accepted, but does our govt have the guts to stand up for us?

  23. hey looks like the artillery has been cancelled for sure

    new tender out

  24. Mr. Shukla, here is another link for your consideration:

    "On July 31, 2009, Chinese military had entered nearly 1.5 km deep inside into the Indian territory near Mount Gya in IaK and painted “CHINA” on boulders and rocks in red spray paint."

    "At a recent meeting attended by top officials of Indian army, Indian Home Ministry, Kashmir government, it was agreed that there was lack of proper mapping of the area. The participants admitted that the Indian area along LAC in IaK has shrunk over a period of time."

    "“Nang-Tsang area was under Indian control upto 1984. However, it was occupied in bits and pieces by Chinese military. Nagkung was also under Indian control till 1991. The area was, however, seized by Chinese military by the end of December 1991. Similarly, Chinese army has taken control of Lungma, which was under India control till 1992,” the local villagers have said."

    What say you?

  25. Chan Akya:

    You can spend your life providing links to article written by paranoid nitwits who have never been within 100 miles of an Indian border.

    In contrast, I go out there, spend real time there, talk to the people who matter there (including the locals) and reach real conclusions.

    I'm not interested in rebuffing the BJP claim. This is a party in free-fall that will say anything -- no matter how stupid it makes themselves, and India, look -- in order to gain a column of newspaper space. And, perhaps, they are right in doing so... because there are untravelled, uneducated morons out there who will cite those newspaper articles all across the internet.

    At this point in time, there is nobody -- I repeat NOBODY -- who knows more than me about the Sino-Indian border. Instead of citing links from compromised newspapers, quoting moronic politicians, mouthing outright lies... go back in my blog and read everything that I have written about China and the border. You will be educated.

    But, Mr Chan Akya, you're probably not interested in reading deeply about the Sino-Indian border problem. You believe reading news articles indiscriminately is an acceptable way to learn. So go ahead and wallow in your ignorance. This blog is not the place for you.

    Good bye, I hope!

  26. Excellent replies Ajai. I am not sure its worth trying to explain anything to BR types. Its bit like talking to a Brick wall. Sites like BR give all indians a bad name. They use your articles if it validates their virtual world and god forbid when it doesn't. They have no respect for the fact that when someone has spent half their life serving the public, why would they do make belief?

    They act brave over the keyboard but none have the courage to look others in the eyes. I have seen their type, when a black or pakistani walk past, they put their heads down.

  27. You assume too much. I agree that I have never been to the border. But then again, most people in India have not. They, like myself, believe (or try to find truth) in the media.

    As I said, I truely hope you are right and the articles are wrong. Perhaps they are merely propoganda to rally the people and govt to be strong. I don't know, I'm not in politics.

    I see you are still hostile. Let me assure you there is no need to be. I am a patriotic citizen that wants the best for my country. Now if, patriotism is evoked, out of ignorance in reading the said articles, then misguided as it may be, it is still better than being "educated" (I'm not saying this is you, I'm saying there are people like this).

    I will try to find the posts you say are on this blog. Perhaps, in return, you will lose the hostility against a fellow citizen who is only interested in a prosperous nation and redirect it against the traitors and enemies of this great nation.

  28. calm downb guys, dont worry ajai. though he is unaware of the real situation, he seems willing to learn, go easy on him. friends,so chill.

    ajai,you should be telling him that this blog is the place to be since it has more truth in it than the mainstream media, instead you seem to be discouraging him. remember, most people out there believe whats in the papers and its not easy to separate fact from fiction. we want more people who are knowledgable and less who are ignorant

    chan read the blog, ajai's intimate nkowledge of the indo-china border gives you a real picture of what its like.

    parties tend to exaggerate the situation to put them in the spotlight.

  29. Folks, forget the acrimonious exchanges. Perhaps I'm being unrealistic in expecting everyone to talk from experience instead of citing rubbish.

    I suppose something that appears in a newspaper appears to have some sanctity... but the reality is that most reporters, indeed most analysts, know jack shit about the intricacies of the Sino-Indian dispute.

    What is most worrisome is that the same paranoia that led to Indian getting its ass whupped in 1962... is very much in evidence in 2010. And, believe me folks, if your collective paranoia (about non-existent Chinese encroachments on the border) forces the Indian leadership into the same aggressive posture --- as it did in 1962 --- the story this time around will be only marginally different.

    Things on the border are calm and peaceful -- you can believe this, or reject it in favour of the links that you all love so much --- and there are no encroachments by the Chinese.

    Subject closed.

  30. Looking forward to the release of your book. Do post when and where it can be purchased.
    According to Livefist, there is a fresh tender for towed howitzers.

  31. "if your collective paranoia (about non-existent Chinese encroachments on the border) forces the Indian leadership into the same aggressive posture --- as it did in 1962 --- the story this time around will be only marginally different."
    I was sad to note that this time too the situation will be the same...all these years and no progress on the sino border :-(


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