Wednesday, September 01, 2010

BAE Throws Bofors Hat Back Into The Ring. Again.


Well, this was inevitable. For a record fourth time, the Bofors FH77-B05-L52 gun has been offered for India's 155-mm towed competition for 1,580 guns. Essentially a reiteration of an offer it has gotten painfully used to putting on the table, BAE Systems was one of the recipients of a fresh RFI that was issued recently, effectively signalling the cancellation of the earlier competition.

In a statement today, BAE Systems said it had, "[S]ubmitted a response to the Indian Ministry of Defence's latest RFI for towed 155mm howitzers, following previous tenders which were cancelled due to the inability of other potential suppliers to meet the tender conditions. The company's offer will be based on the FH77 B05 155mm howitzer, and a significant proportion will be manufactured in India to meet the specific needs of the Indian Army."

The other potential suppliers mentioned in the statement is actually just one supplier -- ST Kinetics. A few days ago, ST Kinetics' India campaign chief Brigadier General Patrick Choy told me that his company's gun, the iFH-2000, needed only six additional days of range testing with Indian ammunition to meet all tender conditions, but there was no response to this request, possibly as a result of the blacklist recommendation which swam into view around that time. He also claims that his team was given 10 days to calibrate their gun (they had requested 14 days), and that a combination of rain-induced flooding and an IAF-Army exercise stole them of six effective days of allocated range time, giving them only four effective days to complete the calibration.

Anand Mahindra, vice chairman and managing director of the Mahindra Group (which BAE Systems partners in India for artillery and specialty vehicles) said, "We're proud to be associated with a defence system that has such a history of defending our great nation. Working on this programme will bring world-leading artillery technology to India for the first time, setting in motion the process of making Defence Land Systems India a global force in artillery."

The question is, of course whether India will ever buy another Bofors gun. The funny thing is, India's blacklist (or potential blacklist) runs like a who's who of the global artillery business -- Denel, Soltam, Rheinmetall and now ST Kinetics, leaving the Bofors gun with practically no competition. That hasn't helped the gun so far, though.

16 comments :

Gagan said...

LOL.
This effectively means that there is no actual potential supplier for artillery guns to India.
BAE may not under "official" blacklisting, but unofficially it is the blackest of the sheep amongst the potential artillery suppliers as far as the congress government or even any GOI is concerned.

This leaves the field open to either a direct purchase from the US or for DRDO to add further intrigue (and delay) into the ring.

I don't think that the Indian army will see a new artillery piece as a result of this tender in at least 5 years hence.

Anonymous said...

hope that crazy man antony wont cancel this RFI again. he hasnt allowed any gun to be bought in the last 6 years and may not allow for another 4

Jayanta Sarkar said...

The CBI which advice the MoD to blacklist the weapons manufacturing majors without having proper evidence against them. They are acting on hunch.If this trend continue then from where we will procure arms?
The DRDO cannot fulfill the demand.

Gogol said...

Good to see Anand Mahindra standing up for it. The more he pitches it and from the front rank, the better the chances. Let the Indian partners stop being low hanging fruit pluckers. Selling guns takes guts and gumption. Anand has shown it in Satyam, let the government return the favour and pick the gun on its merit.

Anonymous said...

Rheinmetall too? When? How? Why? And before I forget - WTF!

Anonymous said...

awaiting your report on IJT still..

Heberian aka K-LT said...

Yes, the blacklist is comprehensive in removing the best arty manufacturers in the world.

Hopefully, this will be a blessing in disguise. If one had read Mr. ( I dont now his army rank) Ajai Shukla's (Business Standard/ the Broadsword blog) excellent article, this may yet catalyse into, FINGERS CROSSED, we manufacturing our own arty.

Check out Singapore folks. With grit and determination, they now have a first rate arms industry that is now mostly indigenous.

So, can it be done? Yes, it can. Will we do it? Well, hopefully, someday, we will deign to look inwards for and develop our capabilities. All it takes is political will, and bureaucratic buy-in. Engineer capabilities we dont lack in.

For example, check out M. Kumar Udyog:

http://www.armedforces-int.com/suppliers/m-kumar-udyog.html

Some of the best ballistic protection in the world.

And guess who buys least from MK Udyog? India !!! :(

Anonymous said...

Is this a ploy by M&M n BAE to remove all competitors and force the GOI to purchase their Bofors Gun? BTW, what is M&M doing in this competition? Another middleman? Man, these arms contracts are turning out to be scams bigger than Harshad Mehta's and ketan Parikh's stock market scams.Billions of $s are simply unaccounted for and being pilfered by babus, netas and middlemen (baniyas) while our nation has the dubious distinction of being one of the lowest countries in Global Hunger Index.

Anonymous said...

@Herbian

Situation is still not so desperate that we will purchase armor protection for our troops from a Kumar Udyog. Already the bulletproof jackets with our troops do not stop bullets but add on to the total weight of eqp carried by our troops.

Kunal said...

Why this half-hearted step? Might just as well also blacklist BAe Land Sytems for having bought out SAAB Bofors and also the Russian gun suppliers for not having supplied proper gun ammunition in the distant past and then just Tweedledum and Tweedledee with DRDO as the black crow.

Gautam said...

If anything AK Antony seems to be the one with ulterior motives seeing he is a Socialist and wants to support DRDO's state monopoly wherever possible. Could he be trying to blacklist every Arty manufacturer in the world to force Indian Army to buy a DRDO gun? Because frankly this situation is ridiculous beyond belief. I hope he doesn't pull the same bull with the MRCA deal.

Mr. Ra said...

Given the friendly situation of Paki666 and Red Dragon, I think India should purchase one third of the quota of guns immediately.

BTW, from where could M/s MKU manage to get the ToT.Lol...

Anonymous said...

All others blacklisted except tainted bofors ,why?

Anonymous said...

Stop beating around the bush and buy the FH77-B05-L52 and assosciated spare parts already. It is the best such system in the world, bar none.

Sonia Gandhi's obsession with 'punishing' Bofors is killing our Army.

Anonymous said...

anon@1,44 AM

"All others blacklisted except tainted bofors ,why?"

"Tainted" Bofors isn't blacklisted because they haven't tried to bribe anyone as all the other blacklisted co:s have. It's as simple as that!

The story why Bofors got tainted in the first place is not very pleasant for India either. As all knew back then the Indians was corrupt to the bone and to win a tender you had pay bribes. When Bofors got busted in Sweden for paying bribes to Indians the swedish authorities asked Rajiv Gandhi (mr "Clean") if they should press charges and follow the leads of who got payed in India. He answered yes and they did ...
A big fat finger pointed to himself and his Congress party who presumably took bribes in the region of $40 million. The Indian authorities and politicians have ever since, in an effort to clean themselves, tried to taint Bofors.

Gautam said...

The things is if the politicians and babus who control the tendering process all DEMAND bribes at every stage in order to get selected, then the companies have no choice but to pay up or get thrown out of the tender. AK Antony may be called 'Mr.Clean' but he heads one of the dirtiest ministries in the Indian government.