In a scathing report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has criticized the slow progress of the Indian Army’s artillery gun modernisation programme. As of March 2022, the CAG noted that only 8 percent of the initially envisaged guns had been delivered to the Army.
The Army’s artillery modernisation plan was formulated in 1999, with the Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan aiming to acquire 2,800 guns by 2027. However, the CAG report highlights that progress has been sluggish, with the replacement of existing guns with state-of-the-art models taking over two decades.
Of the six proposals for acquisition and upgrade of artillery guns, only three turned into contracts, leading to just 17 percent of the proposed acquisitions. The procurement process has been hampered by delays at various stages.
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The report emphasizes the need for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Army Headquarters to ensure that qualitative requirements are realistic, given the significant delays. The Army’s current artillery guns consist of a range of systems inducted since 1965, with the acquisition of self-propelled guns dropped from the modernisation plan without identifying a suitable substitute.
Despite undergoing various stages of procurement, two major proposals for the procurement of towed guns and a number of mounted gun systems, accounting for 77 percent of the proposed acquisitions, could not fructify till March 2022, further underscoring the need for swift action.
Financial Express Online has reported last year that in 2019 the Indian Army had inked a deal to buy 114 Dhanush 155mm/45 calibre towed howitzers and these guns have a strike range of 38kms and 18 guns have already been inducted in the service. And another regiment of the same gun is expected to be inducted in the army soon, sources in the defence and security establishment had said.
Army has also deployed the K9-Vajra self-propelled howitzer which weighs around 50 tonnes in eastern Ladakh and at a high altitude this gun helps the Army further strengthen its position against the enemy.
DAC has already given approval for procurement of additional 100 K9 Vajra.