India to Make $2 Bn Artillery Decision “by 2007”

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Bofors’ FH-77B05 Archer DID has covered India’s $2 billion competition for 400 towable 155mm howitzers, which India hopes will outrange Pakistan’s M109A2 and M109A5 self-propelled guns. South African competitor Denel has been blacklisted from Indian defense contracts as a result of the CBI bribery investigation by the Ministry of Defence, leaving BAE Bofors’ Archer system and a 155mm system from Soltam as potential contenders. These measures have also resulted in new global tenders for collaboration in the Nalanda ordnance factory project to manufacture the 155mm Bi-Modular Charge System (BMCS). Now the PTI news service reports that Army Chief General J J Singh has ordered a fourth round of extensive trials for the guns, in which only the Bofors and Soltam guns will be taking part. He said the two contending 155mm/52 caliber guns would be evaluated through summer and winter trials, with the winner inducted by 2007. Meanwhile, a new scandal is swirling around re-opened allegations of kick-backs involving Bofors, and complicity by the current government in covering them up. That 2007 date could be somewhat optimistic… UPDATES: See “Murky Competition for $2B India Howitzer Order May End Soon… Or Not“.

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