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144 indigenous howitzers approved for Army: Antony

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NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Defence Ministry has cleared a proposal to induct 144 indigenously-developed 155mm howitzers into the Army for which trials will be held later this year.

The 155mm artillery guns are being developed indigenously by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) in Jabalpur on the basis of Transfer of Technology of the controversial Swiss Bofors guns, which were inducted into the Army in late 1980s.

"The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has cleared a proposal for production of 144 155mm guns (in the Army).

Winter trials will take place in December and summer trials in June," Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters here.

He expressed hope that these trials would be successful "so that after 30 years, India can have upgraded 155mm guns."

The Defence Minister had recently visited Jabalpur to review the progress in the development of these guns.

The Army has not been able to induct even a single new piece of artillery gun in the last 25 years despite several attempts.

Asked about recent reports suggesting that the Defence Ministry was curbing the financial powers of the DRDO chief, Antony said, "That is not correct. We are in the process of delegation of more powers to the various wings of the Defence Ministry."

"When there is delegation of power, we have to set right things more systematically. It is not confined to DRDO or BrahMos but to entire Defence Ministry family. Out of our past experience, whenever there is more delegation, there should be more transparent systems. There should be check and balance," he said.

The Minister said efforts to bring in more accountability and transparency in financial management was for "common good and not for one person or one institution."

"On one hand, process of delegation is going on, on the other the process of institutionalising check and balance is on so that every rupee spent by Defence Ministry is spent with more transparency and accountability," Antony said.

To queries on a preliminary internal audit report suggesting financial mismanagement in DRDO, he said, "I will not comment about a preliminary audit report.... I will say something only if it is a final report."

Asked about increasing number of cases of indiscipline in the armed forces, the Defence Minister said the forces were very strict in taking action in such cases.

"There may be lapses but I can tell you compared to other society, armed forces are only areas where action is taking place. Whenever there is a complaint, they don't ignore and inquire it. They take action against senior most officers," he said.

In recent times, a number of Army officers including Lt. Generals, Maj. Generals and Brigadiers have either been court martialled or are facing trials in Army courts.

So far, three Lt. Gen-rank officers have been court martialled for their roles in different cases of corruption.

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India  Howitzers  Antony  
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