Defence Minister A.K. Antony Monday informed the Lok Sabha that the Indian Army has adequate arms and equipment, including artillery gun systems and that the government was giving priority to equipping the artillery units with modern weapon systems.
Antony's statement, in a written reply to questions from MPS, comes in the backdrop of the army having failed to procure even a single new artillery system since it procured the 410 Bofors 155mm guns in 1987 and the subsequent 1,000-gun order from the then Swedish firm AB Bofors was also stalled due to allegations of kick-backs in the deal that hit the then Rajiv Gandhi government.
"Arms and equipment including gun systems in the Indian artillery are available in adequate quantity. Modernisation of artillery, which entails replacement of the equipment of older technology, is an on-going process and is being given priority to ensure that the artillery remains equipped with modern weapons systems," he said.
Antony also noted that there was "no significant problems" in the existing gun systems. "However, the shortages of certain types/components of ammunition as and when reported, have been addressed adequately," he added.
The defence minister said India had obtained the technologies for the Bofors guns transferred to the ordnance factories.
"Though further dealing with AB Bofors was suspended, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has been manufacturing the major components of the gun, such as barrel, breach mechanism, muzzle break, loading trough, recoil system along with the elevating and traversing cylinders, and supplying to the army as spares," he said.
Noting that OFB has indigenised the ammunition required for the Bofors guns, Antony said it has been supplying them to the army on a regular basis.
Antony said the government had prepared a long-term action plan for upgrading and modernising the artillery, which is underway to cater to the requirements projects by the army.
"In terms of this plan, several major weapon systems are in the process of being procured," he said, refusing to divulge more details in national interest.
India is in the process of procuring four types of artillery guns. The Indian Army's artillery needs 1,580 155mm 53calibre towed guns, 180 155mm 52calibre wheeled and self-propelled guns, 145 155mm 39calibre ultralight howitzers and another 100 155mm 52calibre tracked guns.
Some of them are caught up in red tape due to complaints of procurement procedural lapses by rival defence firms, still others are in limbo due to black-listing of the foreign companies that want to sell these weapons system to India.