From 1982 the Government of India (GoI) is on the lookout out for a towed 155mm/39-calibre howitzer along with a family of artillery rounds, charges, fuzes and gun-towing trucks. The requirement is for 1,840 howitzers, of which 410 are to be imported off-the-shelf and the rest to be built in-country with progressive local content. The howitzers are required to re-equip 92 of the Indian Army’s Medium Artillery Regiments. The competition is shortlisted in December 1982 to SOFMA/GIAT Industries of France offering the TR-155, Bofors AB of Sweden with its FH-77B, UK-based International Military Services with its FH-70B, and Austria’s Voest Alpine (later NORICUM) with its GHN-45.
Between October 1982 and February 1986, the Indian Army does no fewer than seven evaluations of the relative merits of the towed howitzers offered by the bidders. In the first six, the TR-155 is clearly preferred to the FH-77B.
Between May and July 1984, the Price Negotiations Committee (PNC) set up for the towed howitzer acquisition by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is officially informed by the four contenders about their agents in India. Following a discussion of this matter in the PNC, its Chairman, Defence Secretary S K Bhatnagar, meets representatives of the four contenders on May 3, 1985 and informs them that “the present GoI does not approve of the appointment of Indian agents acting for foreign suppliers; that in case they had made provision for any commissions for their Indian agents, they should make a suitable reduction in their offers; and that they would be disqualified if it came to the notice of the GoI that they had appointed Indian agents”.
In November 1985, the GoI’s choice, based on advice from Army HQ and a recommendation by the PNC, shortlists the TR-155 and FH-77B.
From January 1986, bids from both the shortlised contenders are received. On March 11, Bofors AB submits its best and final offer. On March 12 the PNC decides to issue a Letter of Intent to Bofors AB for the purchase of FH-77Bs. The matter goes through five tiers of official approval and three Union Cabinet Ministers on a single day, before it is approved by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in his additional capacity as Minister for Defence on March 14, 1986. The contract, dated March 24, 1986 and valid for a 14-year period, is entered into between the GoI and Bofors AB and is valued at SEK8.41 billion or Rs14,377.2 million (US$1.3 billion). The amount reportedly includes $50 million in secret payoffs made by Bofors AB to three or more recipient arrangements and these payments, far from representing any ‘winding-up costs’, are percentage payments tied to specified supplies against the total order and to realisation of the payments by the GoI.
In early 1987, Army HQ formally asks the MoD’s approval to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for procuring acoustic-based and radar-based artillery locating systems.
In April 1987, following media disclosures in Sweden about the illegal payoffs, the GoI in 1989 indefinitely suspends all commercial contacts with Bofors AB. Consequently, the licenced-production of 1,430 FH-77Bs to be undertaken by India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is shelved. All 410 FH-77Bs and 527,000 rounds of seven types of 155mm ammunition are delivered by Bofors AB by January 1990.
In June 1989, the MoD sanctions the OFB’s Badmal Factory to produce a range of 155mm ammunition, with the planned date of completion being June 1993 in two phases. The Factory concludes a contract with US-based Day & Zimmerman in May 1994 for the design, supply and commissioning of a 155mm ammunition filling plant with a capacity of 50,000 rounds per annum on single shift at a cost of Rs293.6 million, including a foreign exchange content of $6.88 million. The planned date of completion of the project is December 1996. The machinery is received in six consignments from October 1995 to June 1997 as against the contracted date of May 1996. The plant is commissioned in May 1998 to produce only three types of 155mm rounds.
In 1991, Army HQ finalises its GSQR for a tactical UAV, and the DRDO’s Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) commences work on developing the Nishant tactical UAV. The project is due for completion by 1995 but is delayed till 2002.
Out of seven types of indigenous 155mm ammunition required to be delivered during 1991-1993, OFB develops only four types of rounds between 1992 and 1998. Against the Army’s requirement of 585,000 rounds, Army HQ places orders for only 237,000 rounds of seven types.
Between 1993 and 1994, the MoD purchases 480 (24 Regiments) M-46 130mm towed howitzers worth Rs100,000 each, of which 100 howitzers come from the Czech Republic, and 380 from Russia.
In 1994, Army HQ proposes the off-the-shelf procurement of nine Regiments of 152mm 2S19 MSTA tracked SPHs from Russia and later modifying them in-country to accept 155mm/52-cal barrels made by either Bofors AB or Soltam.
By 1995, Army HQ reformulates its Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP), under which it plans to replace its 14 different medium artillery howitzers (towed and self-propelled) with 155mm/52-cal towed, motorised and tracked howitzers for the majority of its Artillery Regiments by 2025. Army HQ also says that over the 9th (1997-2002), 10th (2002-2007), 11th (2007-2012) and 12th (2012-2017) Five Year Plans, it seeks 400 additional tracked and motorised SPHs. Also, two Regiments of the DRDO-developed 214mm Pinaka MBRLs (comprising 36 launchers) worth Rs11 billion are to be acquired by the end of the 10th Plan in 2007 out of the total plan for six Pinaka MBRL Regiments.
In April 1995, the MoD decides to begin importing 155mm ammunition from South Africa as the OFB supplies only 49,257 complete rounds against the Army’s demand of 136,000 rounds as of March 1995.
By October 1995, 20 pre-production Prithvi SS-150 surface-to-surface missiles are delivered to the Army to form the 333 Missile Group. The Group with 16 liquid-fuelled, single-stage SS-150 road-mobile missile launchers (and a total of 60 missiles, including reserve rounds) has two Sub-Groups, each of which are further sub-divided into two Troops with two launchers each. The Group is based at Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh State.
In 1996, Army HQ decides to accept 12 Searcher Mk1 UAVs (originally destined for Singapore) from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) for delivery in 1998.
In the summer of 1996, Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering Ltd (now owned by BAE Systems) demonstrates on a no-cost-no-commitment basis its 155mm/52-cal tracked self-propelled howitzer (SPH), comprising the AS-90 turret mated with the hull of a T-72M1 main battle tank (MBT). During firepower trials in the plains, the SPH fires a family of 155mm rounds out to 41.6km. The mobility trials in the desert, however, show the SPH to be underpowered. GIAT Industries, with its GCT turret mounted on a T-72M1 hull, and Denel/LIW with a similarly mounted T-6 turret—therefore decide not to demonstrate such hybrid, tracked SPHs in India.
In mid-1996, Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp and Ekaterinberg-based Uraltransmash propose to co-develop with the DRDO and OFB a hybrid 2S19M1/MSTA-S tracked SPH that combines the hull of the T-90S MBT with a turret containing a 155mm/52-cal barrel that is jointly developed by Bofors AB and Volgograd-based Barrikady State Production Association. The MoD and Army HQ ignore this offer.
In 1997, the United Front-led GoI under Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and later Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral formalises a declaration inked earlier in the year with South African President Nelson Mandela under which the centrepiece of the bilateral relationship is the concept of a long-term strategic partnership, especially for co-developing a family of 155mm/52-calibre towed autonomous howitzers, plus tracked and motorised SPHs.
In March 1997, the MoD inks a contract with South Africa’s Denel Group for importing 80,000 HEER 155mm rounds and 20,000 fuzes at a cost of Rs1.88 billion with free transfer of technology to produce them in-country due to the OFB’s delayed indigenous development of HEER rounds by five years, non-development of 155mm illuminating rounds, and to offset the existing deficiency of 86,955 rounds.
On May 1, 1997 Army HQ starts work on raising the Army’s 40 Artillery Division (now part of the Ambala-based 1 Strike Corps). The Division is to have two Gun Brigades (with six Medium Regiments of which one will have 155mm tracked SPHs, two with motorised 155mm SPHs and three with 155mm towed howitzers) and one Regiment of 122mm BM-21 Grad MBRLs; and one Composite Brigade comprising one Prithvi SS-150 Missile Group, one Regiment of Pinaka MBRL with 18 launchers, one Regiment of 12 Smerch-M MBRLs, and one RSTA Group comprising six Searcher II/Heron II UAVs, two TPQ-37 Firefinder counterbattery radars and four medium-range, BEL-built Stentor battlefield surveillance radars.
In May 1997, the MoD authorises OFB to build two new, dedicated facilities for producing a family of 155mm ammunition and their related charges and fuzes in cooperation with the Denel Group.
During firepower trials conducted at the Pokhran Field Range in 1997-1998, one 130mm M-46S towed howitzer upgraded by Israel’s Soltam Systems (but utilising the carriage and recoil system of the original gun) to the 155mm/45-cal standard is test-fired using extended-range base-bleed ammunition out to a range of 39km.
In early 1998, engineering development work begins on the Bhim tracked SPH, comprising Denel/LIW’s T-6 turret housing a 155mm/52-cal barrel and the hull of the Arjun Mk1 MBT.
In early 1998, Rosoboronexport offers the 9K58 Smerch-M (Tornado) 300mm MBRL to the Army.
In early 1999 Russia’s Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau offers the Krasnopol-M KM-2 laser-guided 155mm projectile, along with related 1D-22 laser target designators and 1A-35I/K shot synchronisation systems. While it is tested to perfection in February 1999 at the Pokhran Field Range, firepower tests at altitudes of 3,700 metres in the Karbuthan Field Range in Kargil fail, after which KBP asks for more time to make modifications to the round and its range table. During the third trial, after modifications, there are two correct hits and two misses and the conclusion is that the Krasnopol-M is still not fit for mountain warfare. Later, it is tested again in the Mahe Field Range in Ladakh after which it is realised that it works in high altitudes with a height differential between targets and gun positions. Approval for acquiring 1,000 Krasnopol-M rounds worth Rs1.51 billion is given by the NDA-led GoI’s Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) in April 1999.
In May 1999, against an urgent requirement, a conditional contract is signed with KBP for the supply of 1,000 Krasnopol-Ms and 10 laser designators worth $34.75 million.
In late May 1999, Army HQ leases one IAI-built Searcher II UAV system comprising one ground control station and four UAV vehicles from Israel’s Ministry of Defence for a one-year period for Rs300 million.
In June 1999 during the Kargil conflict with Pakistan, Lt Gen Shamsher S Mehta, Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Planning and Systems), proposes the leasing of 40 Denel/LIW-made G-6 motorised 155mm/45-cal SPHs with the eventual aim of acquiring them in large numbers once the border conflict ended. The proposal, which moves rapidly upwards within the MoD for approval, stresses the ‘commonality’ factor between the G-6 and the tracked Bhim SPH. The Army’s proposal is ultimately rejected by the MoD’s Finance Department as being impractical and too costly.
On June 17, 1999 Army HQ says that it requires 155mm red phosphorous ammunition to gain the advantage of incendiary effects in addition to laying smokescreens during Operation Vijay. A contract is concluded on August 20, 1999 with the Denel Group for 9,000 rounds worth $12.69 million (Rs551 million). A technical delegation visits South Africa in June/July 1999 and clears Denel as a single vendor. The contract stipulates the delivery of 1,000 rounds within four months after the export license is obtained, and the balance between six and nine months. The first lot of 1,200 rounds is received at the Pulgaon-based Central Ammunition Depot only in June 2000, and QC inspections are not completed until October 2000. The delay is caused primarily due to problems in getting ships through the Ministry of Surface Transport for transporting the consignments.
In July 1999, the MoD lifts its self-imposed ban on commercial deals with Bofors AB.
In August 1999 and January 2000, respectively, the MoD signs contracts for importing 9,000 rounds of smoke and 7,300 rounds of 155mm illuminating ammunition from the Denel Group at a total cost of Rs1.07 billion for Operation Vijay.
In August and December 1999, the MoD inks two contracts with Rosoboronexport for various types of ammunition worth $92.62 million (Rs4.02 billion), including 45,000 rounds of 130mm VOF/RVC rounds (worth $6 million) of which only 30,000 rounds are serviceable up to April 2003.
In August 1999, the MoD inks a contract worth SEK186 million (Rs976.5 million) with Bofors AB for procuring urgently needed spares (489 items) for the FH-77Bs Of this, SEK143 million (Rs750.8 million) is to be adjusted towards the recovery of exuded HE-107 rounds supplied earlier by Bofors AB. The spares are delivered between March and November 2000. A follow-on but bigger spares package worth $23.26 million is ordered later to make the 100 FH-77Bs (cannibalised earlier) operational. Bofors AB also offers to upgrade the FH-77Bs to the FH-77BO5L52 standard by introducing a 52-cal barrel, along with TCM and BONUS sensor-fused guided-rounds.
In October 1999, the MoD inks a contract with state-owned Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) for 67,000 M-8513 fuzes for 155mm rounds and 400 fuze setters at a total cost of Rs815.9 million. The fuzes are to be imported/assembled from components supplied by a South African firm. As per the contract, deliveries are to begin in October 1999. After failing to adhere to the delivery schedule, the South African firm makes a request in November 1999 for supplying M-8513 fuzes of 1989 to 1992 vintage being held by the South African Army, as against the 1994 vintage indicated in the firm’s technical offer. The MoD’s approval is communicated, after which the firm then supplies 15,000 fuzes of 1989-1990 vintage in December 1999 and 95% of the contracted amount for these fuzes (Rs172.7 million) is paid.
By late 1999, the sole prototype of the Bhim tracked SPH is ready for user’s mobility/firepower trials. Over the next four months it is tested in the plains and deserts and achieves a sustained rate of fire of 116 rounds in 60 minutes, firing ERFB-BB rounds out to 42.1km, and VLAP rounds out to 52.5km when using the M64 Bi-Modular Charge System (BMCS). The T-6 turret also houses a ring-laser gyro-based modular azimuth position system (comprising a vehicle motion sensor, dynamic reference unit, and a control display unit) that provides land navigation/direction cues for an autonomous navigation and gun-laying system. A prominent cover is fitted over the recoil/recuperator assembly and an automatic travelling lock for the 52-cal barrel is carried at the front of the glacis plate. The Army projects a requirement for 520 tracked SPHs valued at $972 million, or $2.4 million per T-6 turret. State-owned Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) is designated as lead contractor for the Bhim’s in-country production.
In 2000, Army HQ orders 32 Searcher II UAVs from IAI, of which 16 systems are delivered by 2001.
In January 2000, the MoD inks a $11.98 million (Rs524.7 million) contract with the Denel Group for 7,300 rounds of 155mm illuminating rounds (with 24km-range), based on a June 1999 requirement. Deliveries begin in May 2000. As against the rate of $1,440 per round, inclusive of transfers of manufacturing technologies, that was contracted for in 1997 with Denel, the MoD contracts a rate of $1,641 this time, a cost escalation of 14%.
In March 2000 the final contract is inked between the GoI and KBP to buy the Krasnopol-M after the MoD is apprised of the conditions attached to the round’s usage and the Defence Minister’s waiver is taken for departing from the GSQR procurement procedures. Deliveries begin in early April 2000.
In 2000, the DRDO begins developing a new 122mm rocket to replace those of Russian origin for the Army’s existing BM-21 Grad MBRLs. The new rocket will use a case-bonded composite propellant and a low-calibre thrust chamber, offering an enhanced range of 35km compared to the BM-21’s current 20.4km range.
In March 2000, Soltam Systems wins a contract worth $47,524,137 for upgrading 180 M-46s to 155mm/45-cal M-46S standard. A follow-on deal will provide kits to OFB further retrofit another 250 M-46s. A total of 400 M-46s for 20 Regiments are earmarked for upgrade.
In 2001, Army HQ orders six Heron II UAV systems from IAI.
In January 2001, Army HQ issues a RFP for procuring an initial 15 acoustic weapon locating (AWL) systems worth Rs1.5 billion ($33.33 million). The total requirement is for 70 systems to detect mortar, tube artillery and MBT fire. BAE Systems’ Hostile Artillery Locating (HALO) system and SEL-THALES’ SMAD system are offered.
On November 29, 2001 the MoD says that the OFB’s Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory has started receiving 180 M-46S howitzer upgrade kits from Soltam. The project is temporarily suspended by the MoD in mid-2002 because of quality problems.
In early 2002, Russia’s Tula-based Splav State Research and Production Association brings an improved Smerch-M MBRL to India for field trials. The Smerch-M can fire the 9M528 projectile, which uses a high-energy composite propellant to give an increased range of 90km, and a new warhead that scatters 25 anti-tank mines. It can also be fitted with a warhead containing five Bazalt MOTIV-3F anti-armour sub-munitions, each of which has dual-colour infra-red sensors for terminal guidance, and kinetic-energy fragmentation warheads that can penetrate 70mm of armour at an angle of 30°.
On February 18, 2002 Army HQ issues RFPs to five foreign manufacturers of 155mm/52-cal motorised SPHs and invites them to subject their SPHs to firepower/mobility field trials in India starting April 2002. The RFP states that the requirement is for 300 such SPHs, comprising the off-the-shelf purchase of 180 units and the supply of 120 units in knocked-down condition for equipping 40 Regiments. The RFP recipients include SWS Defence (formerly Bofors AB) with its FH-77BD, Denel/LIW with its G-6 and the T-5 Mk2000 Condor, GIAT Industries with its CAESAR, Karmetal of Slovakia with its Zuzana, and Soltam Systems with its ATMOS. Both SWS Defence and GIAT decline to take part in these competitive trials as they suspect the MoD and Army HQ to have already decided to award the contract to Denel/LIW. Consequently, only the ATMOS and G-6 arrive in India for the trials on a no-cost-no-commitment basis.
In February 2002, the MoD signs two contracts with South Africa’s Denel Group under which the OFB will set up its 40th ordnance production facility in Nalanda to undertake the licenced-production of 155mm BMCS developed by Denel’s Somchem subsidiary; and modify its facility in Bolangir with the help of Denel’s Naschem subsidiary to undertake the licenced-production of the M2000 Assegai (Spearhead) family of 155mm ammunition. The family includes the M2000 high-explosive, M2000 low-fragmentation, M2000 practice, M2001 cluster (containing 42 bomblets), M2002 smoke, M2003 illuminating, M2004 smoke red phosphorous and the M2005 VLAP (Velocity-Enhanced Artillery Projectile). All of these can be fitted with a base-bleed unit. The MoD also signs a contract to buy 200,000 BMCS modules off-the-shelf in April 2002, with deliveries ending by December 2006. Denel’s main competitor for these two contracts is SWS Defence.
Also in February 2002, Army HQ issues an RFP plus invitations for in-country firepower/mobility trials for towed autonomous 155mm/52-cal howitzers. The projected requirement for such howitzers is for 1,580 units (for 20 Regiments) of which about 400 (five Regiments) worth $663 million will be procured off-the-shelf. The three competitors are: the SWS Defence’s FH-77BO5L52; Denel/LIW’s G-5 Mk2000; and Soltam’s ATHOS 2052. Again, GIAT with its TR-G2 howitzer declines to take part. None of the contenders met the Army’s GSQR in the two rounds of field trials, conducted in 2002 and 2003. The Army’s Director-General of Artillery produces a non-committal evaluation of the three contenders, and does not rank the howitzers by order of merit. The MoD requests the contenders to retrofit the howitzers with driver’s night vision navigation devices for a third round of field trials to be held in early June 2004.
In May and November 2002, the MoD signs Letters of Agreement (LoA) to acquire 12 THALES Raytheon Corp-built AN/TPQ-37(V)3 Firefinder counterbattery radars along with 26 AN/VRC-90E SINCGAR radios and related training, spares and logistics packages all worth $142.4 million (Rs9.5 billion) through the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process. Delivery of the radars will be completed by September 2006.
In June 2002, Army HQ raises 41 Artillery Division, now attached to the XXI Strike Corps of the Army’s Southern Command.
In April 2003 the MoD approves induction of the Pinaka Mk1 MBRL with a 37.5km range and directs the DRDO’s Armaments Research & Development Establishment to continue efforts to improve the rocket’s range to 40km by using enhanced solid propellants.
In July 2003, successful user trials of a modified M-46S are conducted. Following this, work begins on upgrading 180 M-46s, but is subsequently capped at only 40 units.
On July 10, 2003 the US Army delivers two AN/TPQ-37(V)3 Firefinders on a two-year lease for training purposes. Initial operator and crew training for 16 Indian Army personnel had begun in April 2003 in California.
In August 2003, the Army’s Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) unit at Mhow, near Indore in Madhya Pradesh, conducts the first round of competitive field evaluations of AWL systems offered by BAE Systems and SEL-THALES. The latter is teamed up with state-owned ECIL. It joined the competition in 2002 as did Tilaker Cannon of Australia, which later withdrew its bid during the early stages of the trials.
In September 2003, the PNC is constituted for the Bhim tracked SPH project. The PNC is seeking a 15% reduction in Denel/LIW’s asking price of Rs130 million ($2.9 million) for each T-6 turret. Orders are planned to be placed for 124 Bhims for equipping nine Regiments.
In October 2003 the GoI’s CCNS clears the acquisition of two Regiments of the Pinaka MBRL (36 launchers) worth Rs11 billion plus 5,000 rockets worth Rs5 billion; two Regiments of the Smerch MBRL (24 launchers) worth Rs22 billion; along with three Regiments of the Bhim tracked SPH (54 units); nine Regiments of G-6 motorised SPHs, and nine Heron II and Searcher II UAVs.
By November 2003, Army HQ rejects the procurement of the Iskander-E—a solid-fueled, land-launched single-stage ballistic missile with a range of 280km and capable of carrying a payload of up to 480kg.
In December 2003, the MoD creates a PNC for finalising a contract for procuring 180 G-6 motorised SPHs for Rs31 billion.
On January 23, 2004 the Prithvi SS-350—a solid-fuelled, two-stage variant—is flight-tested by the DRDO. It uses a high-energy solid propellant (HTPB/AP/Al) that allows greater range (350km to 600km) and payload (500kg to 1,000kg) capability.
In February 2004, IAI begins work on developing for India the first two solid-fuel LORA missiles with a range of up to 300km. Specifications for the missiles were submitted by Indian Army officials in November 2003. Army HQ says it needs 36 LORA missiles worth $800 million and the India-specific ones, whose R & D work is being fully funded by India, will be a 300km-range version. The Army plans to conduct up to 10 test-firings of the missiles before placing a bulk order with IAI.
In March 2004, Army HQ conducts the third round of evaluations and trials for the competing HALO and SMAD AWL systems.
In September 2004 Army HQ awards a contract to BEL to build a DRDO-developed Artillery Combat & Control System (ACCS), dubbed Shakti. Developed by the DRDO’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), the Shakti ACCS comprises artillery computer centres, Battery computers, remote access terminals and gun display units. Deliveries will begin in late 2005. The Army aims to spend about $300 million by 2015 to fully deploy the ACCS in all its Artillery Regiments.
In December 2004, Israel Military Industries (IMI) inks a $40 million contract with the MoD for upgrading the existing Russia-made BM-21 Grad MBRL rockets and improving their precision and range. The contract could expand to as much as $1 billion over a period of five years.
On December 22, 2004 the first production version of the land-based BrahMos supersonic, multi-role cruise missile is successfully test-fired from the Pokhran Firing Range. Each BrahMos Regiment comprises three Batteries each with four Mobile Autonomous Launchers (each with three vertically-launched missiles), three Mobile Command Posts, one Fixed Command Centre, nine missile replenishment vehicles, and three maintenance support vehicles. The Regiment can fire 36 BrahMos missiles against different targets within seconds over a frontage of 600km.
In January 2005 El-Op of Israel’s Portable Lightweight Laser Designator (PLLD) and EADS/CILAS’ DHY-307 PLLD begin undergoing competitive field trials at Pokhran in Rajasthan. Six of El-Op’s PLLDs have been in service with the Indian Air Force since 2001. The Army wants 90 PLLDs worth $266 million (Rs1.2 billion) before considering the purchase of IAI’s LAHAT laser-homing anti-tank missile for the infantry. The Army will also use the PLLDs in conjunction with its Krasnopol-Ms.
By January 2005, the 444 Missile Group and 555 Missile Group equipped with conventional warhead-carrying Prithvi SS-150 missiles are operational.
In February 2005, the PNC concludes negotiations with Rosoboronexport for the Smerch-M MBRL.
In February 2005, Army HQ places orders for four Nishant UAV systems from the DRDO’s ADE for delivery by 2007, with another eight systems to be procured between 2007 and 2012. Each system comprises a mobile hydro-pneumatic launcher mounted on a BEML-built Tatra 8 x 8, six 350kg UAVs each with an El-Op FLIR turret, a three-man Ground Control Station, and an antenna tracking system.
In April 2005, the MoD’s PNCs suspend work on the project to acquire 180 G-6 wheeled SPHs and 54 Bhim tracked SPHs following publication by the South African newspaper Cape Argus of a report claiming that the Denel/Mechem, after winning a contract to supply 100 NTW-20 anti-material rifles and related ammunition to the Army, paid 12.75% of the contract value ($393,720) as commissions on December 8, 2002 to Isle of Man-based Varas Associates, which had reportedly influenced the MoD’s decision to choose Denel/Mechem as the preferred supplier of the rifles. The MoD had concluded an initial contract in July 1999 with Denel/Mechem for 100 NTW-20s and 100,000 rounds of (14.5mm and 20mm) ammunition at a cost of $5.4 million (Rs232.2 million). Another 200 NTW-20s and 150,000 rounds of ammunition arrived in March 2002. In September 2003, a third contract was signed for 400 more NTW-20s. The Army requires a total of 1,200 NTW-20s
Consequently, the MoD instructs Army HQ to revise its two GSQRs and issue fresh Requests for Information (RFI), which is done.