Monday, February 14, 2011

Months From Deal, Bomb Drops On Indian M777 Bid

It was this deal that Indian Army chief General VK Singh was referring to when, in January, he assured the press that the Army would conclude a contract for new artillery guns before the year was out. It is this deal, like every other Indian artillery acquisition effort, that now sits under a dark cloud just months away from FMS contract signature between the Indian Ministry of Defence and the Pengaton. A newspaper report today scooped a letter sent to the Indian Army Headquarters, warning that the deal was tainted, the gun had failed field evaluation trials, and that the Army chief continued to process the acquisition at peril to his reputation.

Apparently, stapled to the anonymous letter were five xeroxed pages from the Indian Army's classified field evaluation trial report, which purportedly revealed that the M777 had failed to meet certain critical performance requirements. This being a non-competitive, single-vendor, government-to-government deal, the field trials are perceived to be a formality -- indeed the Army has in the past gotten the government to officially provide waivers on deviations (permitted in official procedures) to allow the contract through.

Other facets that have been called into question in anonymous notes to the Army include the very requirement for ULHs, the allegedly fabricated definition of "inaccessible areas" which provided the basis of the requirement, the muting of altitude performance requirements and transportation requirements. As with every artillery bid, there are massive vested interests at play. Will this one flare up too?

Photo by Tech. Sgt. William Greer / US Air Force

40 comments :

konglor96 said...

NO WAY! The M777 doesn't fail on direct firing trails, failed in both day / night, transporting M777 isn't slung mode, and M777 is better than any howitzer of field artillery.

Maybe Indian army doesn't know how to use M777.

Anonymous said...

Either the standards of the Indian Armed Forces are way above the rest and therefore no equipment (Foreign or Domestic) can qualify as it cannot meet all the specs that are demanded..... or, our MOD/ Armed Forces/ Babus etc. live in la la land and draft their requirements based on comic books and Hollywood fiction rather then on their needs and equipment availability and therefore they cannot get anything that can satisfy their needs. The only way something gets through is through so called "Tainted" deals.... I wonder is that i the motivation behind drafting these outrageous criteria in the first place. Unfortunately, bribes are becoming a tradition, even when dealing with a street cop, so forget about having anything clean at the top. If and average Ramu has to pay his way, even for something a legal and simple as a Ration Card, there is nothing out there that assures me that deals at the top are any cleaner.

Govt. needs to open up their procurement procedures. Once a vendor has been selected, they should make it public as to why they were selected: Provide the list of criteria and the score and wager that each criteria carries. If cost is the big factor, give it an objective weight before the trial... and so on. India is a democracy and therefore the problem is with the people. People do not demand better from their Babus. They vote them into office and then forget that they, the people, have the power to get them to do what people want.... but then again, who cares about that dumb Jawan who is stupid enough to die for the country... Hey, as long as I (I= Voters, Babus, Military Leaders) am not the one dieing I could care less.

Anonymous said...

WTF my god again if this is the way things goes either we ourself have to come with the big gun that suits our requirement or the Indian Army will be the only distinguished army that has no big gun in it's arsenal.... i pity the men in the army who are entrusted with the safety of our borders without even a big gun ( waisey by the way are there even any indigineous program to develop a big gun going on in the country if so pls provide details as to the progress)

Anonymous said...

i think mms is selling india to us for free

@above: failure is subjective to the requirements of ia may not be the ability to shoot

Anonymous said...

Mr Konglor96 ours is a professional army ,not some militia, mind your words.


Maybe the M777 did not meet the Indian armies parameters, maybe its not suitable for Indian conditions.

Nobody said it is not a good gun.

Anonymous said...

For a service which is so fastidious about 'Staff Requirements' when it comes to domestic suppliers, why should they be allowed to waive their usual requirements for foreign suppliers.

The army in particular and also the airforce are relatively soft on the 'phoren' suppliers.

Anonymous said...

hahaha freaking indian army babus.. come to the RATSHAKER forum and we will discuss this in detail

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

What is most worrisome is that if this deal eventually goes through, it will be a clear violation of the DPP norms that make it mandatory to procure such weapons via the competitive bidding process. In this case, since there is only a single bid on the table--from BAE Systems--if this bid is accepted and the contract inked, it will set an extremely disastrous legal precedent, thereby making India's DPP procedures the world's laughing stock! In the IAF's case, the DPP regulations have already been violated when the C-130J-30 was selected without any competitive bidding process, and this will also be the case when the C-17A Globemaster IIIs are procured in future. The only way to prevent a legal logjam now is to modify the DPP to allow sole-source contracts to be inked.

Mr. Ra said...

The matter shall be reviewed in the light of the said problem in a fastest possible manner. If found OK, no further delay shall be made. If the problem is serious and persistent, then equivalent MBRL production shall be accelerated as a necessary alternative.

Why some things never seem to be fitting in.

Anonymous said...

I smell a rat! It is well known that in the army's arms purchasing section there is this stopping at all stations gravy train. If a deal goes to FMS it means no kickbacks for them or the middleman. This nexus is a powerful lobby and the media is an extremely good su*ker for their stories. If it is true then the Army chief has a lot to answer for. Either way have a professional trial for a single gun like the air force conducted for the 6 MMRCA aircraft.

ArkAngel said...

If the M777 has allegedly failed the Indian army tests, then no gun on earth would pass those tests!
They should try the Klingons, they might have a gun that meets all requirements.

alma said...

"Parts of the leaked trial report, now the subject of an enquiry reportedly showed how the gun in the crucial Direct Firing trials, failed in both day and night."

Thats strange. M777 is used for 5years from now (Iraq+Afghanistan), and I never heard any problems with direct fire. With M982 ammo and 40km range it has a 4-5m cep!!!

alma said...

link:
http://www.thelocal.se/13880/20080822/

and:
"In the Air Portability Trials, the BAE gun scored a zero on transportability by air."

???
This report is fake.

Anonymous said...

M777 Direct Fire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POQHMUmPjL4

I think they are putting an preliminary report all out of context.

Anonymous said...

GOD Save my country!!! the only thing our leaders worry about is growth figures!

mathiman said...

I stand with Gen. V K Singh. This is clearly the workings of the defence mafia within Indian army trying to fail the M777 and instead Pass a russian sub standard gun which will send their accounts ringing.

This general is currently working at the helm of one of the most corrupt organizations within the nation - IA . but i think he is not like the rest.

Anonymous said...

Now this is getting ridiculous!It seems every time deal is about to get through,the other losers(Singapore Tech?)try their best to throw a spanner in the works.All sorts of tricks and complaints are used to discredit the process and re-open the procurement process again.The losers,the Army,the country and all of us.Just get the guns.This will discourage the 'sour grapes' lobby.Any gun is better than NO gun.The M777,whatever the facts here may be,is combat proven in Afghanistan and Iraq.We are getting it primarily for our mountain divisions.So is direct fire so crucial there?

Anonymous said...

Third time is enemy's action.

This has now become a norm in the gun deal and it is dangerous that these vested interests are allowed a free hand in a deal that is paramount for this nations security. Any gun is better than no gun and this deal should be pushed through. At the same time effort should be made to bring this lobby down as they may collude even with this nations enemies to bring down its security apparatus through these stunts.

Anonymous said...

its very hard to believe that M777 which has proven past in both direct firing and air lifting has failed in so much criteria. hell we have not modernized our artillery for a long time. I favor army acquiring these guns or should be there a stretched time consuming competitions like MMRCA? are there many artilleries much better than M777 which will suit Indian army? in case of artillery we don't have much time left for evaluating many options. another 5 years without any decision current bofors artillery indian army is having will part of history.

Anonymous said...

What a complete beat-up by vested interests! The gun is proven and is in use and there has been a whole bunch of pictures and first hand experience of the gun being air lifted by a chopper. Obsurd and I am in total support of the CAS throwing his weight around to shake things up. Good to see him not sitting on the fence and setting goals by saying the gun will be inducted this year....good to see him earn his danger money. 10/4

Anonymous said...

I guess the airlift part means it is not compatible with the Army's current modes of doing so.....not that the gun cant be airlifted at all...

it would be something if we have to purchase equipment to airlift the guns along with the guns...

Anonymous said...

love how everyone is defending it :P

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

Let us examine in an objective manner what exactly the 'leaked' evaluation report says:
1) It failed in crucial direct firing trials--firstly, the howitzer was never designed for providing direct fire-support (like the cannon of a MBT). It is optimised for indirect fire-support. Sub jecting it to firing modes it wasn't even designed for does not mean the howitser is an inferior product. Rather, the Army's QRs lack the degree of required realism.
2) It was incompatible with the Army's firing tables--here again a lot depends on the kind of charges (modular or charge-bags) employed by the operator and the altitudes at which the firing trials are held. The same problem had arisen with the Krasnopol-M in the late 1990s, but the problems were resolved when properly certified charge-bags or modular charges were put to use by the Indian Army.
3) The M-777/LW-155 is indeed air-transportable by IL-76MD. It is totally unnecesssary to transport this howitzer in component/disassembled form or para-drop it as it is not a pack howitzer. Here again the Army should have realised this and not imposed unrealistic QRs. As for heli-transport in underslung mode goes, the Mi-17 cannot do this job, but the Mi-26T can and has done so. And once the CH-47Fs begin arriving, heli-portability in underslung mode will become a problem of the past.
4) Failure of day/night sighting system & comms unit--here again, presumably the failure took place during high-altitude firing-trials (and not in the plains), since there's no single available comms system (even SATCOM-based) that is a substitute for land-lines, as proven during OP Vijay in 1999. Terrain conditions and vagaries of the weather always play havoc with comms hardware. The same goes for the sighting system. These matters can always be tweaked and optimised with the OEM's help in order to arrive at an acceptable solution.

Mirza said...

Vested interest playing games here.

But i don't thinking they are going make dent this time because its matter of china related policy more than else

Anonymous said...

@ Prasun

eh...so the army should modify its QR for the Gun??..are you saying no gun in the world satisfies these QRs any better than this one?

Anonymous said...

Mr Sengupta makes sense (as usual)....and, I think the Media in it's rush for "Breaking news"....goes out whole hog without getting into the details....and creates a mess...

Anonymous said...

What a mess ? Henceforth, the media will select the Gun?? The vested interests are too many.

Firstly, the DRDO wanting to make their own empire by making a gun in next 30 years.

Secondly, the govt itself or the Party on able to make any money in this deal.

Thirdly, the Bureaucrates not able to make any money, this being govt to Govt sale.

Look at this vendor Parasoon. the way he is chimming is claer signs of paid journalist hoopla. When it is between Govt to Govt, where do vendors come in between? So Hawkers like Passons looses his bit.

Theoretically, what is the best situation? Having a little less deffective piece or have No piece?

DRDO can in the meanwhile ask for funding so that they make a gun in next thirty years?

So Journalist are back to their tricks with copies of confidential documents?

Do not overlook the previous Arty Chief, Gen Kapoor acting in vengience !!!

Anonymous said...

Army has to be blamed for this mess.

DRDO can do something about it, if army requests them.

It is the best thing to do at this point of time.

Go for indigenous Artillery. DRDO can deliver in 4 to 5 yrs.

Congress is going to get elected again, so no Artillery from outside for another 10 yrs.

Anonymous said...

Defence minister on howitzer report leak
http://www.hindustantimes.com/Antony-furious-at-howitzer-report-leak/Article1-662774.aspx

Mr. Ra said...

Surprising! They must be having the requisite correction curves and their corresponding computer programs.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@7.01PM: Whenever GSQRs are formulated by any Army HQ, there's always a yardstick employed against which performance parameters are laid out and judged. In case of the ultralightweight howitzer, what you should ask is: which weapon system's performance parameters were employed as the yardstick? Did that particular weapon system take part in the evaluations?
No vendor can be expected to comply with GSQRs that are either downright ridiculous or are impossible to comply with. This is what happened in the third round of evaluations between the Soltam ATMOS 2000 and BAE Systems' FH-77BWL52, when the Army evaluation team had run out of excuses for eliminating either of the two contenders and in the end had to resort to finding out exactly how much of the camouflage paint had been peeled off each of the two howitzers during the field trials!
But in case you have any idea about which existing UFH satisfies all the GSQRs laid out by the Army, I for one would surely like to know more about it, especially if it was used as the yardstick when Army HQ was in the process of formulating the GSQRs. I hope you can share this bit of info with the rest of us.

To Anon@8:26PM: Oye! Vendors come in during the in-country field trials stage on a no-cost no-commitment basis. Product marketing is always done by the OEM. Only at the contract signing stage is the G-to-G sales-and-purchase mechanism applied. That is why during Aero India 2011 last week it was the M-MRCA OEMs that 'leased' their respective aircraft from the operating air forces and brought them to India. There were no exhibitor booths of the air forces of France or Russia or Sweden or Germany or Italy or the UK or Spain at the expo. Pray do your homework!!!

Anonymous said...

@ Prasun
Hmm..if it were so..shouldnt it have gone down to a cost based decision (lifecycle costs) if both had not been eliminated at that stage?? Or is this the result of such a cost comparison

also are you saying that both these guns cleared all QRs or failed in similar or same requirements?

PS: i dont have more info..just trying to learn more from people who do :)

Anonymous said...

Maybe M777 didn't meet any IA specs because there isn't any howitzer in the world that can meet IA standards! Readers need to know what those IA standards are, so we can comment properly

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@10.06AM: On the basis of a cost-based decision, the M777/LW155 would have been declared as the clear winner, as there are more such howitzers in operational use than the Pegasus from ST Kinetics. What I'm saying is that the GSQRs drafted were not realistic at all and did not reflect the operational realities vis-a-vis the solutions available. Whenever any procurement programme is initiated, the GSQRs should always achieve harmony between the operational reqmts vis-a-vis the solutions available. Afterall, one cannot be expected to specify a reqmt knowing fully well that no practical off-the-shelf solutions are in sight. And if such demanding reqmts are still specified, the only solution then becomes the development of a brand-new weapon system from scratch. This has happened several times in the past, especially with regard to the Arjun MBT's R & D process.

chikoo said...

@ everyone: has anyone noticed that no other country in the world had fought a war on altitudes at par or nearly close to that of India (in Kargil war). So, it is wrong to expect that a gun that meets the requirements for those conditions even exists and so DRDO should be given the task to develop the gun within 5 years time....

Anonymous said...

@Prasun

What you mean that the GSQR should be vendor specefic ? Or rather they should invite you to write GSQR since you are in service of vendors ?

Have some limits !!

Anonymous said...

@ Prasun

so you are saying that both all offered versions failed at the same level n the m777 is the cheapest in which case it wont take too long to clear this muddle up

There is also the possibility (at least a theoretic one) that some other vendor may not have offered his guns seeing the unrealistic QR...
Would like to know Shiv's opinion on this aspect...

Anonymous said...

I do not believe in this report by IBN. Do you remember Padma Sri Ms. B Dutt? She is such a person who can manipulate the viewers. Just like NDTV, Sardesai and His clowns in IBN can manipulate the news for their benefits. In fact, I hardly check NDTV and IBN. These two channels have so much rotten things such that when their mainstream journos open their mouths the entire India stinks! Thanks to the connections they have with the Prince family.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

Anon@7.31AM: Don't put words into my mouth!!! Who ever said that GSQRs should be vendor-specific??? Have some limits to your delusions!!!

To Anon@8.35PM: it is inaccurate to say that all versions failed, since only the M777/LW-155 was evaluated, while the Pegasus wasn't since its OEM--ST Kinetics--was blacklisted by the MoD. The possibility you're r eferring to doesn't exist sinc e there are only two OEMs worldwide--BAE Systems and ST Kinetics--that have built such ultralightweight howitzers. There is no third OEM building a weapon system of this kind.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To chikoo: Although the Indian Army's infantry forces took part in OP Vijay in 1999 in forbidding heights, it doesn't mean that even the Army's field artillery howitzers scaled such high altitudes. The Bofors FH-77B howitzers were deployed only at altitudes to which they could be transported by tow-trucks, i.e. for as long as roadways were available within the area of operations. And the Indian Army wasn't the first to make such field artillery deployments. Do study the 1950-1953 Korean War's campaigns to gain more insight into field artillery deployments over high-altitude mountainous terrain.