In a setback to ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self Reliant India) government lifts the embargo on the import for 155 mm, 52 caliber Artillery Guns for 1 year.
In order to give push to AtmaNirbhar Bharat Defence Minister on 9 August introduced a No Import list on 101 defence equipments.
The major highlights from 101 equipments import Ban are Towed Artillery Guns (155mm × 52 cal), Light Combat Aircraft, Light Combat Helicopters to Conventional Submarines and Assault Rifles 7.62 × 39mm.
The timeline to start the import ban on Towed Artillery Guns (155mm × 52 cal) is December 2020, but now the Import embargo is put off for a year by an “office memorandum” now its December 2021.
Postponing import embargo on 155 mm, 52 Cal Artillery will left doors open for 1,580 ATHOS 2052 Artillery Guns cost around Rs 23,700 Crore from Israeli company, Elbit system.
The chief executive of an Indian defence company says to Business Standard that there could be only one possible purpose for postponing the gun import embargo by a year: To import a gun during the extra year granted for imports.
Although this news is not official and just based on a reports by Business Standard, but if the report is true than this step from Government is very disappointing for Private Player who is investing time and money to develop weapon system indigenously in India for our armed forces.
“We cannot understand why the government is facilitating the import of artillery when our indigenous guns are doing so well in development,” says an official associated with the ATAGS programme.
Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is a towed 155 mm/52 calibre howitzer that is being developed for the Indian Army by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by Bharat Forge.
ATAGS is the only 155mn, 52 cal Artillery Gun that set a world record for the longest range of 48 kilometres. ATHOS 2052 or other 155 mm artillery have the maximum range of only 40-45 KM.
This 48 KM range achieve by ATAGS is possible because of bigger 25 liter volume chamber used in the gun. ATAGS or Bharat 52 (another 155mm, 52 cal gun by Kalyani Group) is capable in meeting every requirement of Indian Army.
Without any proper proof many Import lobbyists started questioning ATAGS, after it met with an accident of barrel burst during trials in September.
However, India is expert in bursting barrel of Artillery Guns during trials, we already burst barrel of American M777 ultra light howitzer during field trials, interestingly at that no one came to question the capability of M777 as it was a imported gun.
If Army actually imports 1580 ATHOS 2052 from Israel and give a little order for ATAGS, then this will going to shatter the confidence and hope for private sector in India.
The another question is arises that If government has to change the rules of Import so frequent, then what was the rationale for that Import ban now ?
If government keep doing these things than the Atmanirbhar Bharat or making India self reliant defence manufacturing will only remain as a dream.