August 25, 2009 4:22:16 am
Indias artillery modernisation has been stuck due to scam scares ever since the Bofors scandal but Pakistan has gone ahead,equipping its army with the latest guns that now threaten to give it an edge over the Indian Army.
While India has not received even a single new artillery gun in the last two decades,Pakistan recently received a batch of 67 self-propelled artillery guns from the US using War against Terror funds granted by Washington.
Latest United Nations data reveal that delivery of the M-109 A5 self-propelled artillery guns took place last year. The guns were transferred under the US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme that was granted to Pakistan for the fight against militant groups on its border with Afghanistan.
Experts say these M-109 A5 155 mm howitzers give Pakistan a definite conventional edge over the Indian Army that is years away from induction of similar systems. The most modern guns in the Indian Army are the Bofors that were procured in the 1980s.
While the Indian Army modernisation is getting nowhere,Pakistan is steadily modernising not only its artillery but other arms and services as well. This will lead to erosion in Indias conventional superiority if not checked immediately, said Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal,a former artillery officer,who heads the Armys think tank,Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS).
In the Nineties,the Indian Army had put forward a requirement for guns similar to the ones that Pakistan has now got. While the plan took off in 1999,it got scrapped after eight years of trials after South African firm Denel was blacklisted by the government.
Israels Soltham and Singapore Technologies,the other artillery giants,have also been blacklisted by the government.
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