Thursday, September 2, 2010

New RFP Expected For Indian Wheeled Guns

NEW DELHI — The Indian defense ministry is expected to reissue the request for proposals (RFP) for the third time for 140 wheeled guns within the next two weeks.

Retrials will be held for the same guns that participated in earlier rounds to evaluate performance in extreme hot and cold conditions in the harsh desert terrains of Rajasthan and Ladakh. Firing rate and command and control will be assessed.

Bidders being named include Kerametal of Slovakia, with its Zuzana gun, and Germany’s Rheinmetall RWG-52.

The latest development, however, comes amid ongoing confusion and allegations regarding so-called “blacklisting” of some contenders in the past (Aerospace DAILY,
April 2). For instance, Singapore Technologies Kinetics was not invited to participate in the RFP after being named in a report related to an Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) scandal. But Rheinmetall, which was rejected on another tender
for being involved in the same OFB report, was called to participate in trials for bi-modular charges in Pokhran, and now for the wheeled guns.

Rheinmetall recently denied any wrongdoing regarding the acquisition of defense contracts in India, saying it had broken no rules. A Rheinmetall spokesman says it has not received any notification as to the basis of the corruption allegations.

“With regard to future projects, as well, the company is eager to clear this matter up,” a Rheinmetall representative says.

Armed with 155-mm. ordnance, the 48-ton Rheinmetall Wheeled Gun (RWG)-52 is designed to be a mobile 6x6 artillery system for flexible fire-support operations. The vehicle has a maximum road speed of 80 kph. (50 mph.),and can reach speeds of up to 70 kph. when operating off-road. Its strategic range is 700 km. (435 mi.) and its tactical range is 300 km. A built-in tire pressure management system further enhances the vehicle’s off-road performance, according to a Rheinmetall spokesman.

Its autonomous turret is equipped with the L/52 Rheinmetall gun used in Germany’s PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer in service with the armed forces of Germany,Italy, Greece and the Netherlands, the latter having deployed it in combat operations in Afghanistan.

While BAE Systems’ Archer does not fit the Indian army requirements for the wheeled gun bid, the company has submitted a response to the latest request for information
for towed 155-mm. howitzers, following previous tenders that were canceled due to the inability of other potential suppliers to meet the requirements.

The company’s offer will be based on the FH77 B05 155-mm. howitzer, and a significant number will be manufactured in India to meet the specific needs of the Indian army.

BAE representative Guy Douglas told AVIATION WEEK earlier that the 155-mm. FH77B05 howitzer was the best choice for India since it has proven itself in previous trials.
- Neelam Mathews

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