Even as the Bofors gun scandal continues to haunt India years after it was unearthed during the 1980s, the good news is that these guns may soon be produced at home.The country’s largest power equipment manufacturer, state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), which is already making supplies of 76 mm and 127-mm guns to the Indian Navy, said it was looking at producing "Bofors-equivalent field guns for the Indian Army" with appropriate technology selection by the ministry of defence (MoD).
“After our successful stint with the Indian Navy to supply guns for ships, we are now in talks with the defence ministry to manufacture Bofors-equivalent field guns for the Indian Army,” BP Rao, CMD, BHEL, told Hindustan Times.
“Depending on the technology they (MoD) select, we area ready to manufacture these guns at our Haridwar factory where we have a separate manufacturing set up for guns,” said Rao.
Rao clarified that BHEL may not be the only one to manufacture such specialised guns as companies such as Mahindra and L&T were also in the race for the same.
Talks in this regard were at initial stages, a senior defence ministry official said, confirming that efforts were on to produce such guns indigenously.
Field guns or howitzers are identified by barrel diametre. The specifications for the Bofors-type howitzers is 155x45 mm, which means a barrel with a diametre of 155 and length, which is 45 times the diameter. Such guns can fire a shell up to 30 km.
While there has been no purchase of such guns since the Bofors controversy broke out in the 1980s, the government has been in talks for procuring the highest version of the 155x52-mm calibre guns.
Moreover, the recent offset policy of the ministry of defence will help in indianisation of such specialised guns produced using foreign technology, said Rao. “With the announcement of 30% technology transfer under the policy, foreign vendors would be forced to share the technology to meet such commitments.”