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Made-in-India howitzers ready to boost firepower of Brazilian army?

Brazilian Army Commander General Tomas Miguel Mine Ribeiro Paiva arriving in Bengaluru on Thursday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@Prodef_blr)

The Brazilian Army Commander’s ongoing visit to India comes at a time when the Latin American country is desperately hunting for self-propelled wheeled artillery systems to replace its obsolete M114 155mm towed howitzers.

After holding a series of meetings at the South Block earlier this week, General Tomas Miguel Mine Ribeiro Paiva witnessed the Integrated Capability Demonstration and firing of Indian Army at Pokhran Field Firing Ranges on Wednesday.

Brazil Army Commander

The Indian Army stated that General Paiva appreciated the precise operational manoeuvres and accurate firing conducted by a variety of indigenous weapon systems. As part of the itinerary, General Paiva reached Bengaluru on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the Brazilian Army Commission issued a Request for Proposal/Request for Tender (RFP/RFT) for obtaining the 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer Armoured Combat Vehicle On Wheels (VBC OAP 155mm SR) – a highly complex strategic defence product technology currently not used by the Brazilian Army.

During operations, wheeled self-propelled artillery usually accompanies tank columns. The howitzers mounted on a chassis of a wheeled truck have a longer range clearing the path of advancing mechanised columns.

The contract aims at acquiring around 36 wheeled self-propelled guns supporting the current needs of the Brazilian land force.

Their delivery seeks to meet, among other aspects, the need to increase the firepower of the Brazilian artillery within the range of 20-40 km, not covered by the current self-towed 155mm howitzers which are at the end of their life cycle.

Brazil howitzer
The self-towed 155mm howitzers of Brazilian Army (Image courtesy: Exercito Brasileiro)

According to reports, Israel’s Elbit Systems is offering its ATMOS 155mm/52 calibre truck-mounted howitzer and France’s Nexter too has jumped into the fray with its Caesar 155mm artillery system which has been deployed by the French and other armies since 2009 in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Mali and current operation in Sahel, Iraq, in Middle-East and East Asia.

Turkish defence manufacturer MKE, which produces truck-mounted howitzer Yavuz, has also shown its interest in the Brazilian proposal.

On the other hand, furthering the narrative of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ in consonance with the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative by the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India too is currently manufacturing some of the best self-propelled howitzers in the world.

This includes joint efforts put in by Indian Army, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA), Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) such as BEL and SAIL besides several other private enterprises.

Tata Advanced Systems has developed a 155/52mm Mounted Gun System based on an 8X8 All Terrain Vehicle. The weapon system is a 155mm, 52 calibre truck mounted gun-howitzer which has excellent tactical and road strategic mobility with a range of 600 km without refueling, travelling at speeds of upto 85 Km/hour.

Mounted Gun
(Image courtesy: Tata Advanced Systems Limited)

Last November, Bharat Forge announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited has been awarded $155 million export order for a 155mm artillery gun platform to be executed over a three-year timeframe.

“This order is a great testament to the Government of India’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat agenda and its sustained push to promote exports of Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) advanced defence platforms from India,” stated the company.

Earlier this year, in yet another step towards modernising the artillery modernisation in addition to the ongoing Dhanush Gun and K-9 Vajra-T Gun Systems, the Defence Ministry accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of 155mm/52 Caliber Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) along with High Mobility Vehicles (HMVs) and Gun Towing Vehicles (GTVs) for the Indian Army.