BAE Systems bids for Indian Army's 155mm artillery gun order

BAESystems has submitted a fresh bid for an Indian Army order for 155mmtowed howitzers, the company said Tuesday, adding that it was offeringan advanced version of the gun that had performed extremely creditablyduring the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan.

The BAE offer is 'based on the FH77 B05 155mmhowitzer, and a significant proportion will be manufactured in India tomeet the specific needs of the Indian Army', a company statement said. 

'The FH77 B05 is a more powerful, updated and computerised version ofthe howitzer that performed so well in the Kargil conflict. FH77B05 hassignificantly greater range than its predecessor, but retains many ofthe 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 aspart of its artillery modernisation programme that has sufferedinordinate delays. The numbers could eventually go up to 1,600. If theentire modernistion programme is taken into account, the army will beshopping for some 5,000 howitzers in the next two decades in acombination 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 tenderingprocess was cancelled after it had reached the summer field trialphase. 

No official reason has been assigned for the cancellation but sourcessaid this was because some of the contenders could not meet theconditions stipulated in the tender. 

'BAE Systems and the FH77 B05 was present and ready to take part inthose cancelled trials in Rajasthan and the (gun) remains in Indiaready to recommence the process,' the statement said.
Andrew Gallagher, managing director and chief executive of BAE SystemsIndia, said: 'BAE Systems is confident that the FH77 B05 is the bestheavy towed howitzer in the world today and meets the requirements ofthe Indian Army.' 

'If selected...our FH77 howitzer will be largely manufactured byDefence Land Systems India, our joint venture with Mahindra and we hopethis will be the first step to establishing this business as anartillery centre of excellence, for BAE Systems globally. Furthermoreit will create highly skilled local jobs in India,' Gallagher added. 

Anand Mahindra, vice chairman and managing director of the MahindraGroup, said: 'Working on this programme will bring world-leadingartillery technology to India for the first time, setting in motion theprocess of making Defence Land Systems India a global force inartillery.' 

BAE Systems is a global defence, security and aerospace company withapproximately 107,000 employees worldwide. The company delivers a fullrange of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as wellas advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions andcustomer support services. In 2009, BAE Systems reported sales of $36.2billion (Rs.1.7 trillion).

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