BAE Systems has submitted a fresh bid for an Indian Army order for 155mm towed howitzers, the company said Tuesday, adding that it was offering an advanced version of the gun that had performed extremely creditably during the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan.
The BAE offer is 'based on the FH77 B05 155mm howitzer, and a significant proportion will be manufactured in India to meet the specific needs of the Indian Army', a company statement said.
The FH77 B05 is a more powerful, updated and computerised version of the howitzer that performed so well in the Kargil conflict. FH77B05 has significantly greater range than its predecessor, but retains many of the features that endeared the system to its users in the Indian Army,' the statement added.
The army is known to be immediately looking for 400 towed howitzers as part of its artillery modernisation programme that has suffered inordinate delays. The numbers could eventually go up to 1,600. If the entire modernistion programme is taken into account, the army will be shopping for some 5,000 howitzers in the next two decades in a combination of towed, self-propelled and ultra-light guns.
The BAE bid is in response to a fresh request for information (RFI) issued by the defence ministry last month after the previous tendering process was cancelled after it had reached the summer field trial phase.
No official reason has been assigned for the cancellation but sources said this was because some of the contenders could not meet the conditions stipulated in the tender.
'BAE Systems and the FH77 B05 was present and ready to take part in those cancelled trials in Rajasthan and the (gun) remains in India ready to recommence the process,' the statement said.
Andrew Gallagher, managing director and chief executive of BAE Systems India, said: 'BAE Systems is confident that the FH77 B05 is the best heavy towed howitzer in the world today and meets the requirements of the Indian Army.'
'If selected...our FH77 howitzer will be largely manufactured by Defence Land Systems India, our joint venture with Mahindra and we hope this will be the first step to establishing this business as an artillery centre of excellence, for BAE Systems globally. Furthermore it will create highly skilled local jobs in India,' Gallagher added.
Anand Mahindra, vice chairman and managing director of the Mahindra Group, said: 'Working on this programme will bring world-leading artillery technology to India for the first time, setting in motion the process of making Defence Land Systems India a global force in artillery.'
BAE Systems is a global defence, security and aerospace company with approximately 107,000 employees worldwide. The company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. In 2009, BAE Systems reported sales of $36.2 billion (Rs.1.7 trillion).
News Source: Sifi