Dhanush gun is expected to add more firepower to Indian Army's artillery regiments

by Pradip R Sagar

Indian Army's artillery modernisation programme, which had a bumpy ride for nearly three decades, finally appears to be inching towards its goal. After the induction of M-777 ultra-light howitzers in November last year, now the country's first indigenously designed and developed Dhanush gun is expected to add more firepower to Indian Army's artillery regiments.

Four indigenously developed and manufactured Dhanush howitzers would be inducted into the force for deployment along the front lines on April 8. Last month, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), the manufacturer of the gun was given the bulk production order for supplying 114 Dhanush 155 mm x 45 calibre artillery gun. Army plans to buy 114 guns initially and subsequently induct 414 systems at a cost of over Rs 4,500 crore.

Immediately after the Kargil war, Indian Army's Field Artillery Rationalisation Programme (FARP) was given a go ahead by the government at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore. It was targeting to equip its 169 artillery regiments (one regiment has 18 guns) with over 3,000 155 mm howitzers-towed, tracked, self-propelled, wheeled and ultra-light by 2020.

According to OFB, the Dhanush gun system is primarily based on the designs of the Bofors howitzer. "Induction of the Dhanush guns is scheduled for April 8, Monday, and a ceremony to be held in Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. It would be the third type of artillery gun to be inducted into the Army after the K-9 Vajra and the M-777 ultra-light howitzers," said an officer.

Defence officials claim that the weapon is the first long-range artillery gun to be produced in India and is a major success story of the 'Make in India' initiative with over 80 per cent of Indian content.

“The gun is equipped with inertial navigation-based sighting system, auto-laying facility, on-board ballistic computation and an advanced day-and-night direct firing system. The self-propulsion unit makes the gun easily manoeuvrable. 155 mm is the diameter of the shell and 45 calibre relates to the length of its barrel," said an official, while adding that Dhanush towed artillery gun had suffered mishaps during the trials. Its barrel was burst during field trials in the deserts of Rajasthan two years ago, which was later indicated to be the cause of faulty ammunition or some fake Chinese parts were used in the gun.

Explaining it further about Dhanush, an official said that it has no comparison with M-777. “Dhanush can fire up to the range of 38 km while M-777 has a range of 30 km. The weight of Dhanush is 7,000 kg and M-777 is only 4,000 kg. Dhanush is primarily for desert warfare and M-777 is for high-altitude deployment,” official said.