India's New Domestic Artillery Gun Fails Weapons Trials for Third Time
03:47 16.08.2017(updated 10:36 16.08.2017)
India's homemade Dhanush towed howitzer may be domestically produced, but a multitude of failed tests have proven that the weapon is unready for use in warfare. An Indian Army source told Defense News that the artillery gun has failed three times in as many months, pushing the induction date back further and further.
"The Dhanush 155mm/45-caliber artillery gun has failed on three occasions in a row in the last three months when the shell of the gun hit the muzzle brake in one of the six prototype guns currently undergoing user trials," the source told Defense News.
This isn't the first time the Dhanush has encountered troubles. In July, The Times of India reported that "in May when six guns were being fired at one go, a shell hit the muzzle brake in one of the pieces…Last week when the test fires were being undertaken, again a shell hit the muzzle brake, bringing the whole process back to square one."
"Shells hitting the muzzle brake could be due to a number of reasons such as overexploitation of the munitions, overcharging of the munitions and so on or even faulty ammunition; all of these aspects will have to be evaluated," said Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst, to Defense News.
India currently uses 414 FH-77B howitzer artillery guns manufactured by Swedish defense contractor Bofors (which was then acquired by the British BAE Systems in 2005.) The FH-77B's were purchased in the late 80s and early 90s.
The Dhanush is based off the FH-77B, as India acquired the schematics to the gun. Its primary advantage over India's aging arsenal of FH-77B's is a larger caliber, a longer effective range, and a faster rate of fire.
The guns were intended to be made of 80 percent domestically-manufactured components. However, it was later revealed that wire race rollers that were labeled "Made in Germany" had actually come from China – and were defective to boot.
India ordered 114 Dhanush howitzers, which were intended to be phased in between the end of 2017 and sometime in 2019. This cost New Delhi about $2 billion. Eventually, they hope to replace the entire FH-77B arsenal with 414 Dhanush's.
India is in the midst of a military modernization where New Delhi intends to decrease dependence on foreign-made weapons in favor of ones made domestically. However, the project has run into numerous roadblocks: for instance, India's domestically produced batteries of Akash surface-to-air missiles has thus far been a $561 million money pit, as not a single one of the missile platforms is operational over seven years after the contract was inked.
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