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Singapore's howitzers lands in India despite ban

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Image of 155mm ultra-light howitzers to be supplied by Singapore. A fle photo

NEW DELHI (BNS): Indian Defence ministry requirement for 155mm ultra-light howitzers, for army artillery modernization plans, is to be put on hold until it is decided whether or when the request for proposals (RFP) will be reissued.

Aerospace DAILY reported that India recently received a consignment of 155mm light howitzers from Singapore Technologies (ST) Kinetics, despite a temporary ban on procurements from ST and six other companies. The ban followed the arrest of four people for allegedly "fixing" several defense deals, and will last until the investigation is over.

Decision would be taken in due course even as a consignment of the howitzer guns (Pegasus SLWH) from Singapore Technologies, arrived in India recently for field trials. Top sources in the Ministry said to the media.

"There has been no official advisory from the Indian authority on the temporary suspension of business activities in relation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation of former director-general of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)," the company told Aerospace DAILY.

"We do not have any Joint Venture with OFB and have not signed any agreement with OFB," the daily quoted Gaius Ho, spokesman for ST Kinetics as saying.

Following the ban, "ST Kinetics has since approached the authority for clarifications and presented to the ministry a list of all our business activities in India. While awaiting a response from the ministry, we have offered all cooperation to assist with any investigation as appropriate and hope that the ministry will quickly review the matter and clear ST Kinetics' reputation," Ho said to media.

"We are perturbed by the change of events and feel strongly that we have not been fairly treated as a legitimate bidder who is committed to helping the Indian MoD with its modernization efforts, ST Kinetics is definitely a victim of the whole situation." Ho added.

“ST Kinetics' Pegasus LWH is a lightweight gun with self-propelling capability. The Pegasus LWH offered to the Indian defense ministry was customized to fully meet the requirements of the RFP, “he said.

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