India’s state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has indicated that it is making preparations to make the Bofors gun available to the Indian Army at the earliest. At the recently concluded OFB meet, Director General and Chairman OFB, Sashi Dhar Dimri had indicated that OFB is in a position to offer not only the Bofors gun but even the upgraded version. OFB is confident that by the beginning of 2013, its Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur will be in a position to field the Bofors gun for trials.
State-run OFB has been sanctioned $ 83 .66 million by the Indian government this March for creating and augmenting the large calibre weapon manufacturing capacity in Ordnance Factories. In fact, OFB will soon be ready to come out with the upgraded version of Bofors gun. The upgraded version of the gun will be raised from a 39-calibre to a 45-calibre gun with mechanical and electronic suite upgrades. The upgraded Bofors gun will be ready for field trials by January 2013.
While work on the upgraded Bofors gun is underway at OFB, they have already tried out the gun in the Proof and Experimental Establishment, Balasore where extensive firing took place for internal evaluation. OFB officials said that while one gun has been upgraded with the electronic suite incorporating ballistic computers, servo valves and communication systems to provide automation, the second gun has been upgraded by fitting a new 45 calibre long barrel. The latter can achieve a range of 40 kilometres.
The Indian Army has not been able to procure even a single new artillery system since it procured the 410 Bofors 155mm guns in 1987. The 1,000-gun follow-up order from the then Swedish firm AB Bofors did not materialize due to the allegations of kick-backs in the deal.
However, state-run OFB has been manufacturing the major components of the gun like the barrel, breach mechanism, muzzle break, loading trough, recoil system along with the elevating and traversing cylinders. The OFB has indigenised the ammunition required for the Bofors guns and has been supplying these to the army as spares for a while.
The Defence Ministry has stated that as part of the modernization plan for the Indian Army, several major weapon systems are in the process of being procured. India is in the process of procuring four types of artillery guns for the army. During a parliament session, it was revealed by the Defence Minister that India needs 1,580 155mm 53calibre towed guns, 180 155mm 52calibre wheeled and self-propelled guns, 145 155mm 39calibre ultra-light howitzers and another 100 155mm 52calibre tracked guns.