Update on Bhim 155mm SP Howitzer

Requests for proposal (RfPs) sent out for a replacement gun for the now turret-less Bhim have resulted in a single vendor situation -- only one country has responded to the RfP: South Korea. The gun that has been put on the table is almost definitely the K9, manfuactured by Samsung Techwin.

In early 2005, just about two weeks before the Bhim deal was to be signed by DRDO with South Africa (the Bhim was finalised as an MBT Arjun chassis with the South African Denel T6 turret), the corruption controversy blew Denel out of the water and onto the Indian government's official do-not-touch list. There went that deal. The Bhim was virtually put into the cold storage after that. It was a deep shock for everyone at the Combat Vehicle Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE) at Avadi, for whom the deal meant not just prestige, but also a fire that would keep the Arjun line humming. So much for that. The Army wanted 200 tracked SP howitzers and 200 wheeled ones, which were to be integrated separately. Both divebombed after the Denel fiasco.

With a single-vendor situation now arising and pushing the entire Bhim deal back by at least three years, the MoD will shortly issue another RfP in the hope that more and other companies will respond. While the government is not quite sure why more companies haven't come forward, they're sure that this time around firms like Giat (now called Nexter), SWS Bofors, Samsung Techwin, Soltam and possibly a few others will come forward with turret propositions.

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