BAE Systems has said it is ready to provide assistance to India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) in its endeavor to build artillery guns on the basis of the technology of the Bofors FH77 B02 howitzer, transferred to it as part of the aborted procurement in the 1980s. BAE Systems owns the howitzer unit of the erstwhile Swedish company.
Dean McCumiskey, Managing Director and Chief Executive of BAE Systems’ India operations told StratPost his company would be open to discussing any question of technical assistance the OFB might require, in its attempt to execute the designs and technology documentation transferred to it as part of the old Bofors howitzer purchase, cut short because of the infamous corruption scandal.
The OFB has been tasked with the manufacture of 100 howitzers to be built using the technology transferred to it by Bofors.
Besides providing drawings and manufacturing instructions as part of the technology documentation transferred, Bofors was also required to provide technical support in understanding and executing the documentation, as part of the contract. But since the deal was cancelled, there was no move to execute the license production of the technology and build the howitzer in India.
Defense Minister A.K. Antony told Parliament earlier this month, “The government had secured the right of transfer of technology during the purchase of Bofors guns. Though all the technological documents as per the ToT contract were received by OFB from M/s AB Bofors, the Transfer of Technology was not carried forward as the dealings with the technology provider; (M/s AB Bofors) were suspended. Further, no indent was placed by Army on OFB for manufacture and supply of complete gun system.”
Consequently, India never requested any technical support from Bofors or any of its successor companies, the agreement for which lapsed several years back without any move to extend its validity.
StratPost understands from sources familiar with the technical details of the Bofors artillery procurement that it would be ‘almost impossible’ to make use of the documentation without assistance and support from the original designer and producer. There are also questions as to the availability of components and subsystems in the market, which has moved on from analogue to digital. Systems that would likely require redesign altogether could include the computer, range finder, gyro and positioning system.
BAE Systems currently makes the FH77 B05 howitzer, a significantly advanced version of the system supplied to India.