Parrikar starts artillery procurement; no sanction for buying more Pilatus trainers - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 23 November 2014

Parrikar starts artillery procurement; no sanction for buying more Pilatus trainers

Indian vendors, like Tata Power, are geared up for the mounted gun project with products like this

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 23rd Nov 14

At an apex meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Saturday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has tried to revive the flagging purchase of artillery for an army that has bought no modern guns since 1987, when the procurement environment was deeply scarred by the Bofors scandal.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, chairing his first DAC meeting, sanctioned the start of what could be another tortuous, multi-year procurement of 814 mounted gun systems (MGS) for an estimated Rs 15,750 crore ($3 billion).

These 155 millimetre/52 calibre guns are being bought in the “Buy & Make (Indian)” category of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). In this, Indian companies will establish joint ventures with foreign gun-makers; which will build the guns in India. The DAC ruled that the first 100 MGS can be imported ready-built, while the remaining 714 must be fabricated in India.

Indian vendors have long awaited this tender, with technology partnerships tied up and ready. The frontrunners are: L&T, with French company, Nexter; Bharat Forge with Israeli company, Elbit; Tata Power SED with South African company, Denel; and BEML or Punj Lloyd with a Slovakian gun company.

Over the last two decades, artillery procurement has seen many false starts. Numerous tenders have been floated in five categories of 155 millimetre guns. These include the purchase of (a) 1,580 towed guns; (b) 100 tracked (self-propelled) guns; (c) 180 wheeled (self-propelled) guns; and 145 ultralight howitzers.

This variety caters for diverse operating scenarios. Towed guns are for regular use in plains and mountains; tracked (self-propelled) guns are mounted in armoured vehicles to support tank formations; wheeled (self-propelled) guns are for fast-moving, non-armoured formations; while the ultralight howitzers, which can be lifted by helicopters to remote locations are for mountain divisions. The MGS is a regular 155-millimetre gun fitted onto a high mobility vehicle. This allows it to move and come into action quicker than a conventional towed gun.

Yet these guns have one thing in common: the MoD has not bought a single one. Several gun trials are still continuing.

Separately, the MoD has ordered several indigenous gun programmes. The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is supplying 114 Dhanush 155-millimetre/45-calibre guns. These are based on the technology transferred by Swedish gun maker, Bofors AG as part of the controversial procurement of 410 Bofors guns in the late 1980s. If these guns perform well, this order could rise to 414 guns.

Meanwhile, the Defence R&D Organisation is spearheading the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun (ATAG) project, to build a more powerful 155-millimetre/52-calibre gun, with an ambitious range of 60 kilometres, and a weight of just 12 tonnes. This all-Indian project includes private sector players like L&T, Bharat Forge and Tata Power SED.

The DAC meeting also reviewed, but postponed decision on, the Indian Air Force (IAF) proposal to order 38 additional PC-7 Mark II basic trainer aircraft from Swiss company, Pilatus, which has already won a contract to supply 75 aircraft for Swiss Francs 577 million (Rs 3,727 crore).

While the IAF has pressed hard for exercising the “options clause” on the Pilatus contract, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) told the DAC today that its indigenous project to build the Hindustan Turbo Trainer – 40 (HTT-40) is well along, and the home-grown trainer would make its first flight next year.

The DAC also heard that IAF training is continuing on the Pilatus trainers already ordered; the HTT-40 would be maintained cheaply by HAL; the Indian trainer could be armed and sold to buyers like Afghanistan, which cannot be done with foreign aircraft due to “end user restrictions”; and the HTT-40 is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” philosophy.

Furthermore, in 2009, the DAC had itself cleared the purchase of 181 basic trainers in two separate categories --- 75 trainers in the “Buy Global” category; and 106 built by HAL in the “Make Indian” category. The DAC asked why the IAF was now proposing a new “Buy & Make” category procurement to build the Pilatus in India.

The defence minister ordered the IAF to explain this change, which would be reviewed at a future DAC meeting. Parrikar said the DAC’s tradition of monthly meetings did not preclude more frequent meetings for urgent matters.

On November 26, HAL will conduct its first detailed briefing of the new defence minister, where Parrikar will be brought up-to-date with the progress on the HTT-40. HAL sources say the development is complete, the construction of the first trainer is well under way and it will make its first flight by mid-2015. 


  1. Just hoping that HAL does not get the contract only to screw the Aur Firce.

  2. If we can make multiple satelites launching rockets and 'Managalyaan' that can reach Mars, why can we make our Artillery guns? What is so complicated about it? Practically they are just big 'revolvers' say for example.

    What is so difficult to make a really big revolver????

    We can make helicopters, we have almost finished TEJAS, we can build warships, submarines, what the hell is so unachievable about these?

    We should have ability to make our weapon systems.

    It would nothing but plain retarded if again go to other countries to buy such shit!


      India is trying to make gap of these below listed defence requirements:
      1. ICBM,
      2. Second aircraft carrier,
      3. Carrier battle grp,
      4. Lrsam, srsam,
      5. Anti tank missile,
      6. Light combat heli,
      7. Medium transport aircraft,
      8. Tejas,
      9. Mmrca,
      10. Fgfa,
      11. Sub water 3.5k missile,
      12. Submarines.

      If india waits till all this ia made by it...than our country called India might not remain to defend it with all these.

      You are blabbering abt one artillery gun procurement.

      your army will be importing guns soon if we aren't able to make in sizeable numbers a better option than insas, soon!

      Pls think of all the above I believe u will automatically get convinced about what you said isn't practical for India to implement!

  3. Twenty seconds of heartbreak. A dozer yanks the ski jump head off of INS Vikrant as her scrapping begins in Mumbai (Vikrant was fitted with a ski jump in the late 1980s to ease Sea Harrier operations). Truly sad to see her go. Sure, some would argue that its best to let old relics fade away. Somehow, the Vikrant wasn't just an old relic. It was India's first aircraft carrier. It was involved in an unforgettable cat and mouse hunt during the 1971 war. And most of all, it was going to be possible to keep her alive as a privately funded museum with almost no public expense.

    The British Majestic-class aircraft carrier, was transferred to the Indian Navy in 1961, serving 36 years before being decommissioned in 1997. Languishing as a half-hearted, mostly out-of-bounds relic at the Mumbai naval dockyard for nearly two decades, she was finally towed to a south Mumbai shipbreaking yard, where they began ripping her up late last week.

    When I went on board Vikrant in 2011, she had just been cleaned up and renovated in preparation for a possible private buyout for conversion into a museum-cum-event venue. None of that worked out.

    So, over the next eight months, a ship steeped in history, will be cold rolled into those twisted steel bars for building construction work.
    From the Livefist

  4. Sad. This nation cares little about the country, armed forces or the faujis.
    has anyone spoken about the discontent in the AMC about the non-implementation of DACP? No. but check out all the veterans' site. So much angst about medical facilities. You don't pay or give any perks to AMC.

  5. Mr Shukla is there any timeline put out by HAL for the HTT-40 which defines the expected lead time to actual delivery of the first batch of trainers to IAF once the first flight is done in 2015?? Can we positively expect full series production of HTT-40 either by early 2016 or 2017. Time is a critical factor at the moment. HAL cannot afford any slippages to the HTT-40 program once go ahead is given.
    If in the unlikely event that defmin gives go ahead to procure pilatus are we still looking at atleast 2 years before the first locally assembled pilatus are delivered to IAF. If so then HAL has a stringent two year time line to deliver full series production HTT-40 to IAF by 2017. If it's two years atleast for both trainer to reach the IAF then HTT-40 could be given a go ahead albeit at cost of increasing the complex multi aircraft model inventory operated by IAF at moment.

  6. HAL ambition to sell combat capable HTT-40 to countries like Afghanistan is a bit far fetched and ambitious in my opinion. One only has to look at the luck HAL has had in marketing Dhruv abroad against very determined n influential foreign manufacturers. Even Israel which helped considerably with the glass cockpit version of Dhruv has not really embraced the Dhruv into its tri services. Afghanistan is a cocktail consisting of great players such as USA & Russia and the sneaky ones such as China and Pakistan. They will not by any small measure allow HAL to supply HTT-40 combat trainers to the Afghan Airforce. Besides when for the last 14 years India has adopted a very ambivalent and gandhian approach to supplying whatever heavy combat capable weapons the Afghans have requested. The current Afghan president has now said he will no longer pursue those outstanding weapons requests and will look at other players such as China to meet those requests.
    With Russia now deciding to supply Mi-35 combat helicopters to Pakistan and expand its Defence ties with that terrorist state a whole new dimension to india russia relations has opened. The Russians will surely try their best to supply their combat capable trainers to the afghan airforce.
    I think HAL should just focus on strengthening the home front first to meet the resurgent chinese dragon.

  7. Mr Shukla in your last article you have got the arithmetic wrong. The cost per aircraft works out to about $9.8 M. Besides this there are additional costs of maintenance of rotables etc. The major issue is HAL has not delivered till now. Can they make a solemn promise to the country to deliver in time? That is the big question. Because of their callous attitude to marketing, assuming the IAF was in their pocket, they did not commence development of the indigenous trainer at the right time, thus causing an outflow of 7000 crores needlessly.

  8. NSR says...

    India must train plenty of pilots to be top gun pilots and also to save their lives during training and combat missions....
    So India must have proper amount of BAT, IJT, and AJT trainers...Please order immediately to keep the required minimum by IAF...

    All of the problems encountered by India are due mainly to engines...So India should pick up properly proven engines for BAT, IJT, AJT, fighters, etc and do joint design and development to get technology and to go forward successfully...
    It is a costly mistake to pick up an altogether new and unproven Russian engine for IJT...

    India MUST continue with the development of its own BAT, IJT, and AJT even if it takes long time to fulfill the dream into a great product ...
    It will be Indian owned and it can be further developed forever...It will create aerospace technology, well paying jobs, inspire students to become engineers, etc in India...

    That is only way to go...even China is doing the same...

  9. copying... pampa... t4 marine... design... finger crossed... result... hal sitara...

  10. the Chinese CX-1 missile a Brahmos copy ???

  11. Can HAL explain the miserable failure of the HPT-32?? It could never resolve the problem of Engines not re-lighting mid-air in case of a failure. 19 lives were lost.
    The IAF had to ground the entire fleet when 2 senior instructors perished in a HPT-32 crash 4-5 years back. HAL's HTT-40 is a cocktail of components imported from some 26 countries.
    Look at the IJT (Sitara). HAL has no answers. Kiran Mk-2 is reaching End of life.

    HAL must be asked to finish pending commitments.

    Why this rage against Pc-7 and support for HTT-40 is beyond comprehension when LCA, IJT are languishing??? There should be public pressure on HAL and MOD for completing IJT. It represents an opportunity 10 times the size of BTA in value.

    The sad part is this that IAF may be forced to use PC-7 for stage-2 training also.

    Ajai can you please explain the reasons for your support to the HTT-40 program when you yourself lamented the IJT failing and IAF going for new Stage 2 trainers and also in the light of the miserable failure of HPT-32??

  12. PC-7 BTA, Hawak 132 AJT, Tejas, Su-30mki is a great advertisement of a modern and "SAFE" IAF to draw youngsters into its fold.

    Imagine HPT-32 BTA, Kiran Mk2, Mig-21 as IAF training fleet. What scary picture it presented.


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