The Indian Army, which began inducting the indigenously upgraded Dhanush artillery guns, will have the first regiment in place by March 2020 and will get all 114 guns by 2022, Army sources said. Dhanush is the indigenously upgraded variant of the Swedish Bofors gun imported in the 1980s.
“The first regiment of 18 guns will be in place by March 2020. We will get another 36 guns by March 2021 and another 40 by March 2022. The entire order for 114 guns will be completed by 2022,” an Army source said.
In April, the Ordnance Factory Board had handed over the first batch of six Dhanush guns. The Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur, received the Bulk Production Clearance to manufacture 114 guns from the Army on February 18, 2019.
The Defence Ministry had stated earlier that indigenisation to the extent of about 81%, has “already been achieved” and by the end of 2019, the level of indigenisation in the manufacture of the gun “will go up to 91%.”
Sources said the induction process was reviewed at the recently concluded Army Commanders’ Conference and “various options for the employment were discussed”.
Dhanush is a 155 mm, 45-calibre towed artillery gun with a range of 36km and has demonstrated a range of 38 km with specialised ammunition. It is an upgrade of the existing 155m, 39 calibre Bofors FH 77 gun.
The Army recently procured 155mm Excalibur precision guided ammunition from the U.S. having the ability for targeted artillery strikes at extended ranges. Sources said the ammunition can be used with all 155-mm artillery guns in the inventory.
The Excalibur projectile is developed by Raytheon and BAE Systems Bofors, and according to information on Raytheon’s website, it provides accurate “first-round effects” at all ranges in all weather conditions and “extends the reach of .39-calibre artillery to 40 km and .52-calibre artillery to more than 50 km”.
The first phase of trials of Dhanush were conducted between July to September 2016 at Pokhran and Babina ranges and the second phase was conducted between October to December 2016 at Siachen base camp with three guns. The last round of user exploitation trials were completed with six guns in June last year.
The gun is fitted with an inertial navigation system having global positioning system (GPS)-based gun recording and auto-laying, an enhanced tactical computer for on-board ballistic computations, an on-board muzzle velocity recording, an automated gun sighting system equipped with camera, thermal imaging, and laser range finder.
After close to three decades, the Army inducted its first modern artillery guns system in November last year. These include M-777 Ultra Light Howitzers (ULH) from the U.S. and K9 Vajra-T self-propelled artillery guns from South Korea.