Sharang 155mm 45 calibre gun
The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has delivered a cost-effective solution for 155mm artillery gun requirement by upgrading the existing Russian 130 mm M46 to 155mm 45 calibre gun ‘Sharang’ (Vishnu’s bow) to the Indian Army. The first gun system was handed over to Army Chief General Manoj Naravane at the just concluded DefExpo 2020 held in Lucknow. “Sharang is the 130mm artillery gun ‘up-gunned’ to all-terrain 155mm, 45 calibre up-gunning based on the Army’s requirement to have better range, accuracy and consistency,” said Gagan Chaturvedi, DDG, OFB.
Lord Vishnu, the Inconceivable Ultimate, is the Supreme God. He is the preserver and upholder of dharma and part of the Hindu Trinity. In Vaishnavism, he is the Supreme Self and the Lord of the universe, who manifests variously as part of His obligatory duty. Bhagwan Vishnu is usually shown with light blue skin and four arms holding a lotus, mace (gada), conch Shankha and disc (chakra) in each of four hands. In the Vishnu Sahasranama, he is called Paramatman or Parameshwara and is periodically reborn as an Avatar upon the earth in order to destroy evil and bring deliverance to the pious. He is also the refuge of the Devas in their battles against Asuras. He is also considered to be the first God, Adideva. He is beyond birth, death, time. He is beyond all.
Vishnu is usually depicted with four arms, though sometimes he is shown with eight or even sixteen. In his hands, he holds the Shankha (conch), chakra (disc), Gada (club), Padma (lotus) and, occasionally, the Khadga (sword) and the Sharanga bow that was crafted by Lord Vishwakarma. The Celestial bow which Vishnu gave it to the sage Richika, who gave it to his son Jamadagni, who gave it to his son Parashurama, another incarnation of Vishnu. Now, when Parashurama found out that Rama had broken the Pinaka bow, he confronted Rama and demanded that he string the Sharanga bow. Rama was successful, and afterward, Rama gave the Sharanga bow to Varuna the ocean god, as described in a later chapter of the Bala Kanda of the Ramayana.
The Army had issued the Request For Proposal (RFP) in 2013 for both OFB and private industry. The Sharang is the result of a collaboration between three OFB sites in Kanpur, Ishapore, and Jabalpur. The OFB offer emerged as the lesat expensive option, comparted with contenders from two foreign competitors, a consortium of Punj Lloyd and Yugo Import and Bharat Forge and Soltam. The OFB fully indigenous Sharang’ field howitzer surpassed competitors in various performance parameters during Field Evaluation Trials at the Pokhran range. The parameters include maximum range, direct fire, rate of fire, accuracy and consistency. Sharang emerged as the only compliant gun after completing trials. The gun repeated its performance in the second round of re-confirmatory trials at Pokharan in January 2018. Indigenous production of Sharang Guns is carried out at Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) and Vehicle Factory Jabalpur (VFJ).
The completely indigenous Sharang 155mm/45calibre Gun system was indigenously developed with modification of Soltam 130 mm imported Russian Gun System at Gun Carriage Factory. Notable improvements with Sharang are the 45 caliber gun barrel chambered for 155mm ammunition. The breech loading mechanism was altered [although the OFB’s media wasn’t too specific as to how]. The wheels supporting the carriage were changed and the trails–the twin “legs” for stabilizing the weapon’s recoil–were redesigned as well and made sturdier. The 155 mm shell has 8 kg of TNT while a 130 mm shell that has only 3.4 kg of TNT. This cannon has special ability to destroy enemies hiding in the mountains. It can be elevated up to 70 degrees.
The gun’s range has now gone from 27km to over 36km with the upgrade. The OFB claims the Sharang can strike targets up to 36 kilometers away without specifying if these mean firing conventional ammunition or rocket assisted projectiles. Other sourcers report it has a striking range of 39 kilometres. It also has the more explosive capability and hence and more damage potential, the official stated. The weapon system is simple to operate and maintain. The SharangTowed gun is designed for worldwide service under all climatic conditions and can fire all existing standard 155-mm ammunition. This step will reduce the logistic trail of the Army as it does away with the need to carry 130mm shells and support equipment as the mainstay of the Army’s long range artillery is 155mm guns.
Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) in Jabalpur had won the global contract to upgrade the Sharang artillery gun. The upgradation work was carried out by the GCF with the help of the state-owned ordnance factories, and teams from the Army and DRDO. The ‘Made in India’ artillery guns will be supplied to the Indian Army from Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur and the Ordnance Factory, Kanpur. Its commercial production is likely to begin soon. The Vehicle Factory Jabalpur (VFJ) has been tasked to assemble 12 Sharang gun systems. Sharang gun systems will also be equipped with night vision sensors which would allow the armed forces to target the enemy at night.
Homegrown innovation got a boost with the success of the Dhanush 155mm howitzer, which features a small motor in its carriage for steering the piece toward its desired position. Dhanush looked set to win the Indian army away from its many aging tube artillery systems. But the US-made M777 won over the defense ministry for its weight class and India is listed among the select few operators of the type, and just 144 Dhanush will be delivered in the next few years. Kalyani Group has upgraded their ULH's from 155/39 Calibre to 155/52 Calibre, which can even outmatch heavier Dhanush's 155/45 Calibre) capacity and range.
The Indian Army has several hundred Soviet D-30 122mm howitzers and perhaps 2,400 locally made 105mm light field guns that need to be replaced or upgraded. The reliance on towed artillery over self-propelled guns results from the geography of the Indian military mission. In the remote high altitude areas where it confronts China, for example, it is rather difficult to deploy heavy tracked self-propelled howitzers.
Sharang it represents a breakthrough for the OFB, whose reputation had suffered after successive high profile contracts between the armed forces and foreign suppliers damaged the reputation of Indian-made military equipment. It’s also an innovative approach to reviving older artillery weapons. The Soviet vintage M-46, with production shared with Egypt and North Korea, had been recognized as one of the deadliest field guns in the world until NATO’s 155mm howitzers took the lead. The Serbian M46/10 155 mm / 45 cal. converted gun have been based on the famous Soviet 130mm M-46 gun, where the barrel has been replaced with new 155 mm with 45 caliber length.
Fifteen regiments comprising 300 towed artillery pieces will be upgraded to the 155/45 mm calibre in the contract signed between the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and MoD in South Block on October 25. All upgraded guns will be supplied to the Indian Army by 2022. The Sharang upgrade kit costs less than Rs 70 lakh per gun, less than one-fifth the cost of a brand new towed field artillery piece. The Army had close to 1000 of the 130 mm guns that were acquired from the former Soviet Union beginning in 1968. The Army also had around 180 upgraded 155 mm field guns that were upgraded by Israeli firm Soltam under Project Karan in 2008. OFB officials said the contract opened an avenue for them to explore the gun’s export potential. It is the first time when any indigenised gun system was given green signal for bulk production within a record time due to indigenisation and proof trials of guns in the same city.
The Sharang cannon, designed for the army by ordnance factory in the city, has been liked by 10 countries in the world. These countries have shown interest in the purchase of Sharang. In addition to UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, 10 countries including Thailand, Myanmar will soon start talks on the purchase process of the cannon. Apart from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Muscat, Oman, military and other representatives from three other Gulf countries have liked this cannon. According to sources, representatives from two Asian countries of Myanmar and Thailand have also shown keenness on the cannon.
The reason behind this is that the armies of these countries use the guns of the Caliber of Sharang. This cannon is very useful for these countries. Sharung is friendly every season. It also works in cold places besides deserts. The value of the Sharang cannon is quite competitive. It can open up large avenues for export of this cannon. The government wants to export defence-immune products from across the country on a large scale.