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SOURCE: NARAYAN APTE/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Based on Haubits FH77B 155 mm x 38 calibre guns manufactured by Bofors designed in the 70s but supplied to India in the 80s, the Dhanush 155 mm x 45 calibre long-range howitzer Program was not only was meant to be an upgraded Bofors based on the original Transfer of Technology (ToT) but also break Indian Army’s long-pending logjam on failure to induct new modern howitzer system in last 30 years but the program that started of with bang is now turning out one of the reasons why the Ordnance Factory Board (“OFB”) had to be broken off into smaller companies to stop constant fall of quality of the products that organization manufactured.

While carrying out Army trials, Dhanush suffered four muzzle hits due to which internal investigation and retrials of the same meant the program was delayed by few years then came the infamous incident when CBI had to file a case against Delhi-based Sidh Sales Syndicate for supplying Chinese parts for Dhanush guns camouflaged as ‘Made in Germany’ while Dhanush was entering production. OFB was criticized for outsourcing components to dubious private sector companies without checking their installed manufacturing capabilities.

OFB did manage to resolve most of the outsourcing issues and also technical issues with the Dhanush guns and Army soon placed orders for 114 Dhanush guns in 2018 so that once production stabilizes it had planned to procure 800 units of more but it seems controversies refuses to leave Dhanush program alone. OFB due to the pandemic situation faced delays in delivery of the first batch of 18 guns to the Army and later Army refused to take deliveries of further guns after finding quality and build issues with the 15 guns that were supplied.

Army flagged multiple concerns regarding hydraulics, sight, and even mounting in some cases. The army had noticed a remarkable degradation of the build qualities of the guns from the guns that were supplied for the firing trials. A joint team of MOD and Army have identified issues and have requested OFB to fix these issues before the supply of the guns is resume again.

Its unlikely OFB will resumes supply of the Dhanush guns anytime soon since most of the manufacturing team that produced the first lot have been asked to undergo re-training and the equipment, tools that were used to the manufacturing of these guns are been relooked into with the possibility of resupply of this machinery from different vendors for which time frame of 6-8 months will be required. OFB is likely will resume the supply of fresh batches of the Dhanush guns from the second half of next year onwards.

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