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Dhanush Artillery Guns to enter final Army trials

Dhanush, the Indian 155mm howitzer based on the Bofors gun design, will go for another testfire next month before being inducted into the Indian Army, five years after the project was launched. Dhanush, which has a better range and modern functioning as compared to the original Bofors gun, has been developed by Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), Jabalpur.

The gun was put on display by the GCF on the occasion of Ordnance Factory Day on Saturday.

Bofors is of 155x39 calibre. But Dhanush is of 155x45 calibre which gives it a better range of 38km, 10km more than the Bofors. Six Dhanush guns are already with the Army but yet to be officially taken in. The guns have been taken for what is being termed as "user exploitation".

Sources said such an arrangement has been made for the first time. User exploitation means the Army will use it extensively. With this, it will get accustomed to the weapon system and any changes that may be required can be pointed out to the manufacturer. "At the same time, a user evaluation, which is done to confirm that the gun fundamentally meets the Army's specification, is also underway independently by a different team," sources said.

After clearing all the tests, it is expected that the first batch of 18 Dhanush guns will be sent to the Army for induction in 2017-18.

The testfire will be held at Pokhran in Rajasthan next month with around 300 rounds of firing and this may be the final round under the "user exploitation". The previous testfire was held at Siachen where the gun was able to fire accurately with even pinpointing bunkers. The rounds could hit the target with minute precision.

"This has boosted the confidence of GCF team which is now waiting for the next trials," the sources said.

The firing will be conducted under the "user exploitation" mandate. In the meantime, results of the user evaluation are expected in July. The six guns will be sent back to the GCF for incorporating the suggested changes.

Subsequently, another 12 guns will be ready to be finally sent to the Army. GCF originally has a mandate to make 114 Dhanush guns. "Orders for the remaining 96 will depend on the clearance of the first 18," the sources said and added the GCF plans to make 35 to 40 guns each year.

Meanwhile, there was an issue related to radiated emissions from the guns during the last trials under user evaluation. During the firing, there should be no emissions from one gun to another. The problem has been solved and the results of further tests are expected in July.

Production of the guns continues at the GCF so that there is no time lag. The user evaluation is done in four stages covering aspects like maintainability apart from firing. With most of hurdles getting cleared, the GCF is hopeful of getting the final clearance under the user evaluation too.

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