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September 30, 2010

Bharat Earth Movers Develops 155mm, 52 caliber Artillery Gun; Field Trials Begin

By India Defense : Bharat Earth Movers Ltd has reportedly developed an indigenous 155mm, 52-caliber state-of-the-art artillery gun. The Bangalore-based defence public sector undertaking is ready with the wheeled gun and field trials have already started at its testing tracks in the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), Karnataka.

This development comes in the backdrop of the fact that the artillery has not purchased a long-range gun in about 20 years following the Bofors gun controversy. The Government recently gave the nod to inviting global tenders for the 155mm guns and the proposed contract for over 1000 guns, besides other range of artillery guns including Howitzers, worth over Rs. 20,000 crore.

BEML chairman and managing director VRS Natarajan said they were the nodal processing agency for this gun, which would enhance the lethality of the defence forces. The gun is part of a technology transfer between a Slovakian company, DMD, and BEML to produce this high-precision gun for the Indian armed forces.

Natarajan said, "We have already been made a nodal processing agency for the 155mm, 52-calibre gun which is a state-of-the-art weapon to be inducted by India. We will produce and supply this to the defence forces. It’s a technology transfer; India wants to go for a very upgraded tank which is faster, lighter and able to have a greater fire power with lethality."

He also said, "For the wheeled gun project, we have tied up with a Slovakian company, DMD, for a defence offset and the vehicle has already been made available for trial. The time frame is about three years from the date of order by the defence forces. We expect it to commence in the current year or at most the next year."

According to the BEML chief, the company was also looking at the tracked version of the same gun, which will give better fire power. "We have already set up a state-of-the-art, world-class test track. We have a firing range too," Natarajan said, adding that the PSU was also in the process of setting up infrastructure for the overhauling of T72 and T90 tanks.

According to officials, the 155mm, 52-caliber gun -- which is already in use by NATO countries - would augment Indian capabilities. At present, BEML has set up a testing range at KGF and started the trial of Suzana guns. This wheeled gun would increase the artillery power of the Indian Army. The gun's trial evaluation is over and it is waiting for the request for proposal from the Indian Army, the officials added.

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