In an effort to reduce dependency on foreign players for the supply of arms and ammunition to the India’s defense forces, India started the indigenous production of weapons systems under the Modi government. Dhanush is a part of the project of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to manufacture field guns to replace the older Russian guns.
History of development of indigenous gun
India started the development of field guns in the 1970s at gun carriage factory in Jabalpur under the leadership of Brigadier Gurudyal Singh of the Artillery Gun Development team. Soon 105 mm guns were inducted in the army. Later it was found that Bofors guns are better and a deal was reached between the Congress government and the AB Bofors Sweden to supply the guns and with a clause of future technology transfers.
BOFORS guns: Scandal and embarrassment
Bofors supplied the 410 guns as agreed between itself and the then congress government at the center. It was going all fine till one morning in 1987, one official of the Swedish police blew the whistle based on his findings that the firm had paid kickbacks to several countries including India to place itself favorably. The report was published in the Swedish newspapers and it alleged that the AB Bofors had charged twice the price of the gun.
Later, pressure built on the Indian Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to come out with the truth as his government negotiated the deal. It was alleged that AB Bofors paid 640 million rupees to the Indian politicians to secure the contract. The investigation went on in Sweden and also in India. AB Bofors declared that it would not supply the parts of the gun to India at discounted prices under the deal nor will it transfer the technology to India. India was left in the lurch, as the usage of the gun led to wear and tear and India had to buy the parts in the international market at steep prices.
Failures and setbacks
After suffering at setback in the development of field guns at par with the like of Swedish or American guns, OFB tried to develop the indigenous field gun. This went on for 3 more decades until Modi government took the reins in 2014 and Dhanush gun was formally laid out for testing for the Indian army in 2016. Initially the Dhanush gun suffered setbacks. The ordnance burst inside the firing tube once which made it dangerous for the soldiers and ordnance missed the targets on several times.
Removal of flaws and final induction
After the negative feedback the flaws were rectified and the Dhanush the towed field gun was put in service formally on 8th April 2019. It was little heavier than its counterparts but the range was more and the ordnance delivery was much more. It will be the third type of artillery gun after K-9 and M777. Dhanush is now ready for low land and desert warfare.
Praise Modi for the effort
Modi government’s determination to made “made in India” a success is literally praiseworthy. His persistent endeavor to made India an industrial powerhouse and breakaway from the nexus of the government and middlemen should be supported with an open heart.