The Indian version of the controversial but battle proven Bofors artillery guns Dhanush is much better than the original howitzers in terms of its striking range and automated equipment, says Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
The Dhanush guns are being manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) based on the designs of the original Bofors Ag supplied to India in the 1980s.
"Special features of Dhanush guns are that it has 8 km more range than Bofors and is equipped with several other modern systems. We have already placed orders for 114 guns with the OFB," Parrikar said.
The other features which help the desi Bofors score over the original version include 'modified double baffle muzzle brake and a modified loading trough to accommodate Bi Modular Charge System (BMCS)."
The gun, a towed howitzer, with a strike range of 38 km, was developed by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Kolkata, after going through the design and voluminous documents, running into more than 12,000 pages, which were delivered to India under the first phase of transfer of technology as part of the Bofors gun deal in late 80s. At the moment, the army has been given six prototypes of the gun by the OFB for extensive user trials.
Meanwhile, the army will get a boost in its artillery as the government is also close to signing a contract with the US government for the supply of 145 M777 ultra light howitzers.
The procurement of the $750 howitzers was recently cleared by Parrikar at the meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) by Parrikar.
As part of the contract, 25 guns will come to India in a fly-away condition, while the rest would be assembled at the proposed Assembly Integration and Test facility for the weapon system in India in partnership with Mahindra Defence Systems.
The Indian Army has been deprived of a new artillery gun since the late 1980s, when the Bofors scandal happened and India put a stop on all gun procurement from Bofors of Switzerland.
However, the gun performed very well during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan and hit the fortified Pakistani Army bunkers in direct-fire mode at high altitudes leading to the victory of Indian forces in the limited war.
After the scam, the Indian Army has tried on various occasions to buy new guns but at least four tenders were cancelled due to various reasons.