New Delhi: The Army plans to procure around 2,000 gun-towing vehicles (GTVs) to move its 155mm/52 calibre towed gun systems through rough mountainous and desert terrains.
The vehicles, it’s learnt, will replace the Kraz and Scania GTVs that are currently in use for the Russian-era 130 mm towed medium guns and the Swedish Bofors guns respectively. They will serve for a decade after induction.
The decision comes amid the Army’s long-term artillery modernisation plans picking up pace in the last decade. The Bofors gun and the indigenously-built Dhanush guns are among the medium guns in the Army’s inventory.
Moreover, while the indigenous Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is being built, a separate process is underway to procure at least 400 similar guns from the global market, which in this case is Elbit’s Autonomous Towed Howitzer Ordnance System (ATHOS).
In a Request for Information (RFI) floated Wednesday, the Army said it wants to identify probable Indian vendors who can undertake the project under the Make in India initiative. It says the equipment should have 50 per cent indigenous content. The interested vendors will have to send in their responses by 8 September.
The vehicles, it states, will be used to carry 155mm towed guns weighing upto 20 tonnes, carry gun stores, ammunition and gun crew on metalled roads, tracks and cross country in plains, deserts, semi-deserts, mountains and high altitude areas.
The requirements sought by the Army for the vehicles include a capability to operate across terrains with a payload of 8,000 kg or more with a gun in tow weighing upto 20 tonnes.
The Army has said the vehicles should have a diesel engine and an ammunition handling crane with hydraulic or electric drive of minimum two tonne capacity.
The RFI states that vendors will have to provide their technical and commercial offers separately, after which a technical evaluation committee will check if the equipment offered is in compliance with the Request For Proposal (RFP).
The equipment of all vendors, cleared by the technical evaluation committee, will have to undergo trials for evaluation on no-cost, no-commitment basis before the final vendor is shortlisted based on the lowest bidder.
Force to procure 424 GTVs for Dhanush, Sharang guns
According to defence sources, the Army will also procure 424 GTVs, primarily for its Dhanush and indigenously-upgraded 155 mm Sharang guns.
A senior Army officer told ThePrint that there was a need for sturdier gun-towing vehicles for better gun mobility in harsh terrains.
“But most importantly, this is progress towards having a common towing vehicle for all the 155 mm guns. This will make the logistics and inventory management easier,” the officer said.
In 1999, the Army had drafted a Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan to have 1,580 towed gun systems, 814 mounted gun systems, 100 self-propelled howitzers and 145 M777 155mm/39 calibre lightweight howitzers for the mountains, which meant equipping 169 artillery regiments with medium artillery weapons.
Some of them, such as the ULH and Dhanush guns, have been delivered and inducted into the Army’s artillery regiments.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)