Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BAE Systems says it will not participate in towed guns RFP

Neelam Mathews
May 10, 2011
Time: 9:pm IST

Even as the MoD extended the validity of its Request for Proposal by two months –upto June 28- for 155 mm. towed artillery guns, BAE Systems has reconfirmed it will not participate in the RFP for the 1580 guns.

BAE Systems says it has not reconsidered its position on the FH77 B05 howitzer towed 155 mm gun and contrary to a news report, the company denies having held a strategic meeting last week in Delhi, or anywhere else, to reconsider the decision.

 "The decision not to bid for this program been made. That decision is not under review," says Guy Douglas, spokesman of BAE Systems to Aerospace Diary.

Not many bidders are left in the fray with many blacklisted including Singapore Technology Kinetics (STK); Denel,  Soltam and Rheinmetall. Russia's Rosoboron is believed to have decided not to participate.

Interestingly, Israel’s Elbit that bought over Soltam is participating alongwith Bharat Forge, Nexter alongwith Larsen & Toubro, while DRDO is said to be developing a similar gun with Elbit and Bharat Forge.

The RFP says after the first 400 guns are delivered, the rest will be manufactured in India’s Ordnance Factory Board within six years of the contract signing. Many internationals vendors have criticized this mandate as they say, it will not help the domestic private industry to grow.

For instance, with BAE Systems having signed a Joint Venture with the Mahindra Group, it would make business sense to permit them to manufacture and export from their own facility, says an OEM. The company was also ready to transfer of technology mandated for metallurgy for the barrel.

“OFB will certainly have a role to play as decided by MoD.  Nonetheless, as we wish to build our domestic presence here in India, Defence Land Systems India (JV between Mahindra and Mahindra and BAE Systems) is our chosen artillery partner and there is still plenty of scope for significant work share with them,” says Douglas.

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