New Delhi, Nov 10: M777 Ultra Light Howitzers and K-9 Vajra self-propelled guns were inducted into the Army on Friday. These artillery guns are powerful weapons which are bound to strengthen the armed forces'. But this also brings into focus made in India Dhanush artillery guns and why the army preferred Howitzer over Dhanush.
When it comes to purchasing artillery guns, defence apparatus had to be extra cautious as the previous purchase some three decades back had spiralled out into a major political issue as it involved Bofors guns.
In May 2017, Indian Army received the first two ultra-light howitzers from the US as part of an order for 145 long-range guns. Ministry of Defence had cleared the proposal for buying 145 guns for US$660 million on 11 May 2012.
Why it was M777 Ultra Light Howitzers preferred over Dhanush?
To understand this, we must delve into specifications of both the guns. Dhanush, developed by Ordnance Factories Board, is a 155 caliber gun capable of targeting enemy posts up to 38 kms. DRDO 155 mm artillery gun or Version 2 of the Dhanush is under development. It will upgrade the current 155 mm/45 caliber gun to 155 mm/52 calibre. Dhanush v2's larger calibre ordnance will increase the strike range by 4 km (taking the range upto to 42 km).
The main drawback of Dhanush is its weight, as it uses heavier materials which takes its weight to close to 12,000 kgs.
The M777 howitzers are ultra-light-weight towed artillery guns which are manufactured by BAE systems. The gun weighs a mere 4.2 tonnes and this makes it possible to be rapidly deployed at a short notice. M777 weights 4200 kg due to the use of Titanium alloys as compared to Dhanush's weight of 12,000 kg. M777 weighs a third of what Dhanush weighs.
How does this impact battle situation?
In a battle scenario, speed with which guns can be placed at strategic locations is of paramount importance. The M777 Howitzer can be transported using an Ch-47 chinook Chopper. This can be of great importance in battles as getting your striking assets on time to the battle field is extremely crucial to gain tactical upper hand.
Even in Kargil battle, our Artillery corps used 155mm Bofors AB's Haubits FH77u. That gun was heavy and it took a while for troops to place them in strategic locations.
There is no doubt that Dhanush is a potent gun and army has placed a massive order for it to be deployed in other parts. But in regions where logistics are challenging and transportation is difficult, light weight M777 Howitzers would be preferred. Moreover, tests are still being conducted on Dhanush, and it will take time for it to be ready for full-fledged mass production.