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First time after Bofors, Indian Army may procure howitzer gun

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The controversial Bofors gun.

NEW DELHI (PTI): The ghost of Bofors haunting the Defence Ministry appears to have been driven away as the Army is expected to acquire an artillery howitzer 22 years after the controversial gun deal.

After the Bofors scandal in the 80s, the Army has not been able to induct even a single piece of howitzer due to various controversies resulting in several cancellations of tenders in this regard.

"I am also quite hopeful that on one particular variety of guns, we should be able to start seeing certain amount of induction this year," Army chief General V K Singh said here.

As part of its over Rs 20,000 crore artillery modernisation plan, the Army is looking at inducting several types of howitzers through inter-governmental pacts and global tenders.

The Army Chief said "to do away with the critical deficiency" of howitzers, the Army has plans of starting trials for the guns this year in summer and enable their induction by the end of next year.

India is already in an advanced stage of negotiations with the US for procuring over 145 Ultra-Light Howitzers for their deployment in mountainous region.

Trials for the 155 mm 52 calibre towed artillery guns are also expected to commence soon involving the BAE Systems and Singapore Technologies.

The Army presently uses a mix of 105 mm field guns and 130 mm and 155 mm medium howitzers.

On the modernisation of air defence systems, the Army chief said, "We have been able to push most of our cases and we should be seeing results as we have set targets for ourselves that trials must start this year."

Asked to comment on the activities of the ULFA in Assam, the Army Chief said, "ULFA at present is dormant. The 28th battalion is active in Myanmar and Paresh Baruah is further far away."

Singh said the present problems in the state were being created by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and its various splinter groups.

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Army  Bofors  Howitzer  
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