Nagpur: After failing thrice during trials, Dhanush, the Indian 155x45 mm calibre howitzer, based on the Swedish Bofors, has cleared a crucial round of internal tests. It is slated to be sent for further trials with the Army in April.

The howitzer indigenisation was initiated in 2010. In 2013, a shell burst within the barrel during trials with the Army, setting back the process. After this, in 2017, there were two incidents of muzzle hits during similar trials. The shell came out of the barrel, but hit the muzzle brake, a component at the opening. In the same period, one of the pieces of the first batch of M-777 guns purchased from the US too suffered a muzzle hit.

Dhanush is being developed at the Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) Jabalpur. After a series of setbacks, it was decided to undertake thorough internal trials, before putting up the gun for trials with the Army again.

Sources said two guns were tested at Balasore, where the internal trials were held. Nearly 80% of the rounds were fired at full charge. This means the highest power of ammunition was used. This is because muzzle hits normally happen when a shell is fired at full charge.

During the Army trials, firing was done from a full battery, which constitutes of six guns. However, the number of shells fired in the internal trials using two guns were much more than in the trials with the Army, said sources privy to the development.

The tests were conducted smoothly with no incidents reported. Although certain modifications have been made in the guns, the changes are not linked with the muzzle-hit issue, said the sources. 

“Aspects like the gun’s compatibility with the ammunition, reliability and sustainability were tested during the Balasore trials. As things have been smooth, a conclusion can be derived that the earlier incidents happened due to fault in the ammunition, not the guns,” said a source. Inquiry is underway into the incidents related to Dhanush as well as M-777.

The GCF has got an order to make 114 Dhanush guns for the Army. Even after the order, tests continued with the guns made in the first batch, during which the misfires took place. Sources say muzzle hit has taken place over 40 times even in the original Bofors purchased from Sweden.