Indian Artillary Guns Attracts Saudis

Indian Artillary Guns Attracts Saudis

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Indian Artillary Guns Attracts Saudis

Bharat 52 calibre 155mm autonomous towed howitzer

Kalyani Group, a Indian Company has placed a total of four types of high-precision artillery guns at the ongoing Defence Expo 2020 at Lucknow. These guns are not only cost competitive but most importantly also indigenously developed.

Most surprisingly the company has developed these four complex platforms in less than three and a half years, something which needs to be taken note of by the Government Ordnance Factory Board managers to shake off their sloth.

The four different gun platforms are as under :

Bharat-52 – 155 mm/52 Cal Towed Gun
Bharat-45 – 155 mm/45 Cal Towed Gun
Garuda-105 – 105 mm/37 Cal Truck Mounted

Light Weight Gun

Bharat Ultra Light Howitzer – 155 mm/39 Cal, High Mobility Ultra Light Gun made of Titanium & Aluminium foil based alloys

Kalyani Group, which has made a considered entry into the field of artillery gun systems, has made a strong impression by two types of its artillery guns on the Saudi Arabian military. Two types of gun systems — both designed and developed by Kalyani Group — have been asked to be sent later this year to Saudi Arabia for trial evaluation by the Royal Saudi Army in the harsh Arabian desert. This is a major breakthrough for the Indian private industry (major & MSMEs) which is trying to get a foothold in the defence industry. The Private companies have been facing a markedly non-level playing field with the Defence PSUs dominating weapons development and commerce in this sector.

Many Indian private defence production units displayed their products which were being manufactured for foreign defence manufacturing concerns. This would need to be encouraged as India seeks to enhance defence manufacturing exports. There would also be near similar equipment from different vendors which the armed forces would not need. An example are artillery guns under development by the Kalyani Group, Bharat 52 and Garuda-V2, on which the Saudi delegation envisaged keen interest, not the Indian armed forces. Encouraging and supporting their export and trials should be undertaken by the government.

The Indian armed forces also need to try out some Indian products which though may not be technologically superior to those available in the international market, may still meet most of our needs. These need to be then considered favourably, initially through small numbers, to encourage the fledgling Indian defence to invest in defence. Once inducted the manufacturer will be willing to improve his product by investing in R & D. Further, the prototypes displayed, if suitable for Indian armed forces’ needs, could be centrally financed for further R & D to enhance quality. This would boost the Indian defence manufacturing capability as per Maj Gen Harsha Kakar.
Till date India had designed only field guns and the growing void was worrying. Now this worrying operational void of field artillery guns to support the Indian Army in battle is finally being addressed.

Bharat-52 is a long-range state-of-the-art 155 mm/52 calibre gun and a premier product in the group’s portfolio. It is the first indigenous solution of its kind designed and developed in India. Bharat-52 is a futuristic towed gun, providing a highly manoeuvrable field artillery solution. It has been designed for accuracy, stability and reliability during moving and firing manoeuvres, and is based on the requirements of the Indian Army. The most significant aspect of this gun is that it is indigenously developed that offer price advantage of as much as 40-50% over similar offerings by global firms.

Bharat-52 is capable of a range exceeding 40 km and utilises self-propelling capability and automatic laying mode. The Anti-backlash drive for elevation and traverse make it a truly unique system and a robust solution for superior battlefield operation. It is designed to operate as an all- weather system and has superior all-terrain mobility. Extremely easy to deploy, it takes a team of six crew members to deploy the system within one minute during day time and 1.5 minutes during night time. Bharat-52 in self-propelled mode is capable of achieving a mobility of 30 kph using its own diesel engine and electronic steering system.

The indigenously developed weapon is manufactured by the company’s Bharat Forge Limited subsidiary and is based on the requirements of the Indian Army. It completed mobility trials at the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE) in Ahmednagar in 2015 and firing trials at the Ordnance Factories’ facility at CPE Itarsi in October 2017.

The company is planning to conduct further firing trials at the Proof and Experimental Establishment’s (PXE’s) facilities at Balasore.

According to Bharat Forge, the 15 ton Bharat-52 has a firing range of about 41 km, with a traverse of 35˚ to right and left, and elevation range of -3˚ to +72˚at a rate of 5˚/s. The Bharat 52 also features a load assist system (LAS) that enables its crew to achieve rapid fires of 6 rounds/min or a sustained rate of 42 rounds/hr.

Gun laying is fully electronic, with the gunnery crew directing the weapon’s traverse and elevation via joystick command.

The range of usable ammunition is quite large: American breaking shells USM107 (maximum range, 17,800 m/18 km) or USM101 (maximum range 24,000m/24 km); ERFB (Extended-range Full Bore) with improved range (30,000 m/30 km); diminished pellet drag (range 49,000 m/40 km); illuminating; smoke; 13 kg sub-munitions ejection (M42) is very effective against vehicles and personnel. The ERFB projectile weighs 45,540 kg, of which 8,620 kg of explosive Composition B. Derived from a pre-existing range, it is longer and more tapered than a current shell, which explains its better penetration in the air, and thus its higher radius of action. The hollow-bottomed model differs only in its rear part, which incorporates a gas generator so as to minimise drag. The usable ammunition surmise is principally based on the Belgian/Austrian Noricum GHN-45 Howitzer which is comparable to the Bharat-52.

Although principally a towed gun, the weapon is equipped with a diesel auxiliary power unit (APU) as well as electronic steering that enables it to travel at speeds of up to 30 kph. The 80-litre fuel tank gives the unit a range of 250 km. All that matters for Bharat Forge is to expect the Army to show interest and the will to procure this exceptional indigenously produced gun.