The government is gearing up for a major procurement of artillery guns for the Army after a gap of over 30 years, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in Lucknow on Thursday. He said the last major purchase of artillery guns took place in 1984 and the Bofors guns bought then are still in use. He said that the process of phasing out these guns will start soon and they will be replaced with new advanced machines. Parrikar said that Army requires at least 3,000 artillery guns.
Earlier in the morning, Parrikar inaugurated an orientation programme of newly elected members of Cantonment Boards’ members of Central Command in Lucknow.
Parrikar said that procurement of different types of guns was in process. These include 145 light weight howitzer—each weighing 4.5 tonnes—that could be moved from one place to another by helicopters and aircraft. He said that while these guns would be distributed in eight regiments, they will be particularly useful in the Northeast where road connectivity is a problem. Parrikar said negotiations for purchase of howitzer guns were on.
The Ministry also plans to provide Army with Dhanush, a 155-mm, 45-calibre gun with a maximum effective range of 38 km. Its barrel will be made at Ordnance Factory in Kanpur while it will be integrated in Jabalpur. Two or three Dhanush guns will be supplied to Army by the end of this month, Parrikar added.
Speaking about the Air Force, Parrikar said nearly 200 MiG-21 fighter planes will retire in the next 10-12 years and will be replaced by Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ and other similar fighter planes in phases.
On terrorism, Parrikar said failure in governance was also a reason for its emergence. He said economic empowerment and creation of jobs could control terrorism. “I am not targeting any particular government. But, I believe that economic growth and providing job opportunities could prevent youths from taking the path of terrorism”.
He also said amendments may be done in in Cantonment Board Act, 2006 to increase powers of elected members.