The most worrying operational void of field artillery guns to support the Indian Army in battle is finally being addressed. Domestic companies like the Kalyani Group has fill this yawing gap and showcased a plethora of high-precision, cost competitive and most importantly indigenously developed artillery guns at the Def-Expo 2018 being held in Chennai. Astonishingly, the company has developed four complex platforms in less than three and a half years, a cue which Ordnance Factory Board managers should take note off.
The Kalyani Group had displayed Four Artillery Gun Platforms at the DefExpo India 2018:
Bharat-52 is a long-range state-of-the-art 155 mm/52 calibre gun. It is the first indigenous solution of its kind designed and developed in India. Bharat-52 is a futuristic towed gun, providing a highly manoeuvrable field artillery solution. It has been designed for accuracy, stability and reliability during moving and firing manoeuvres, and is based on the requirements of the Indian Army. The most significant aspect of this gun is that it is indigenously developed that offer price advantage of as much as 40-50% over similar offerings by global firms.
Bharat-52 is capable of a range exceeding 40 km and utilises self-propelling capability and automatic laying mode. The Anti-backlash drive for elevation and traverse make it a truly unique system and a robust solution for superior battlefield operation. It is designed to operate as an all- weather system and has superior all-terrain mobility. Extremely easy to deploy, it takes a team of six crew members to deploy the system within one minute during day time and 1.5 minutes during night time. Bharat-52 in self-propelled mode is capable of achieving a mobility of 30 kph using its own diesel engine and electronic steering system.
The indigenously developed weapon is manufactured by the company’s Bharat Forge Limited subsidiary and is based on the requirements of the Indian Army. It completed mobility trials at the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE) in Ahmednagar in 2015 and firing trials at the Ordnance Factories’ facility at CPE Itarsi in October 2017.
The company is planning to conduct further firing trials at the Proof and Experimental Establishment’s (PXE’s) facilities at Balasore.
According to Bharat Forge, the 15 tonne Bharat-52 has a firing range of about 41 km, with a traverse of 35˚ to right and left, and elevation range of -3˚ to +72˚at a rate of 5˚/s. The Bharat 52 also features a load assist system (LAS) that enables its crew to achieve rapid fires of 6 rounds/min or a sustained rate of 42 rounds/hr.
Gun laying is fully electronic, with the gunnery crew directing the weapon’s traverse and elevation via joystick command.
The range of usable ammunition is quite large: American breaking shells USM107 (maximum range, 17,800 m/18 km) or USM101 (maximum range 24,000m/24 km); ERFB (Extended-range Full Bore) with improved range (30,000 m/30 km); diminished pellet drag (range 49,000 m/40 km); illuminating; smoke; 13 kg sub-munitions ejection (M42) is very effective against vehicles and personnel. The ERFB projectile weighs 45,540 kg, of which 8,620 kg of explosive Composition B. Derived from a pre-existing range, it is longer and more tapered than a current shell, which explains its better penetration in the air, and thus its higher radius of action. The hollow-bottomed model differs only in its rear part, which incorporates a gas generator so as to minimise drag. The usable ammunition surmise is principally based on the Belgian/Austrian Noricum GHN-45 Howitzer which is comparable to the Bharat-52.
Although principally a towed gun, the weapon is equipped with a diesel auxiliary power unit (APU) as well as electronic steering that enables it to travel at speeds of up to 30 kph. The 80-litre fuel tank gives the unit a range of 250 km. All that matters for Bharat Forge is to expect the Army to show interest and the will to procure this exceptional indigenously produced gun.