The indigenous version of the Bofors howitzer, Dhanush, is expected to go for another round of trials at field firing ranges of Pokhran in Jaisalmer district later this month and if everything goes well, the artillery gun will be inducted into the army after the final evaluation, army sources said.
After successful trials of the 155 mm gun in snowbound Sikkim in March, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is preparing for the summer round of ‘Operation Dhanush’, as the project has been named.
“The tests will be held probably in June-end and will continue till July first week,” a senior army officer said, adding that if things go as per expectations, this will be the last time the domestically manufactured gun will blaze to prove its mettle.
However, other tests, which also include an evaluation by the army’s Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA), will follow before the howitzer is finally inducted into the force. During the summer trials in August last year in Pokhran, the barrel of the gun had exploded, pushing back the indigenization process. Had the accident not taken place, last year’s would have been the final test firing.
As many as 114 Dhanush artillery guns, which are of 155X45 mm calibre as against 155X 39 mm calibre of the original Swedish Bofors, are being developed by the Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur. Source said the OFB has electronically upgraded the guns to 45 calibre from the original 39 calibre, giving the new howitzer a 38km range compared to the 30km of the original Bofors field gun.
The first test fire of the desi Bofors was carried out in May 2012, and it has now reached the final stage. The development is significant because, for nearly three decades, the army has not added a big gun to its armoury.