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The Indian Army’s quest for a modern towed gun system (TGS) has attracted a diverse range of contenders, including Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited’s (KSSL) 155mm/52 calibre ultra-light howitzer (ULH) named Mountain Artillery Gun-Extended Range (MArG-ER). While its lightweight design (under 8 tons) and impressive firing range (41 km) make it a viable option, it faces challenges from competitors offering more advanced features.

The Army’s Request for Information (RFI) doesn’t explicitly mention crucial aspects like Automatic Ammunition Load Assist Systems (ALAS) and steer-by-wire control systems for self-propelled capabilities. These features, however, are considered essential for modern howitzers, and their absence puts the MArG-ER at a disadvantage.

Further complicating matters, the recent Ukraine war has highlighted the vulnerability of towed guns to counterfire due to their lack of “shoot-and-scoot” capability. While the MArG-ER was originally designed for extended range in mountainous terrain, it lacks this crucial feature.

However, KSSL isn’t a one-trick pony. They’ve developed another 155mm/52 calibre gun system meeting the Army’s 15-ton weight limit and boasting all the missing features, including ALAS and steer-by-wire control. This contender is Bharat 52 that could potentially challenge the frontrunner, the Dhanush 155mm/52 calibre towed howitzer also vying for the contract.

The Indian Army’s TGS procurement race is heating up, with various competitors offering unique strengths and weaknesses. While KSSL’s MArG-ER demonstrates impressive range and lightweight design, its lack of advanced features and “shoot-and-scoot” capability may hinder its chances. However, their second, yet-Bharat 52 could be a game-changer, offering a comprehensive package within the weight limit. Ultimately, the Army’s decision will hinge on which system best meets its operational requirements and future battlefield demands.

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