Saturday, 9 July 2011

Ordnance factory develops system to airlift Light Field Guns

Indian Army may be soon able to chopper-lift artillery guns to its mountain posts. The Army along with the ordnance factory has developed an indigenous system for lifting the lighter 105mm light field gun (LFG). The equipment has been tested successfully and the ordnance factory which developed it hopes to bag a bulk production order.

The equipment, 'apparatus airlift', was developed at the century old Gun Carriage Factory in Jabalpur. The factory also manufactures the LFGs. These guns are currently the most deployed 'howitzers'of the Army. Developed indigenously in 1980s, the LFG has a range of 17 kms which can be extended up to 20 kms by making a slight modification in the artillery shell. The 155mm howitzer guns have almost double the range.

At present the Army moves the guns to its mountain posts by road on trucks or on mule-back after dismantling the LFGs. The airlift equipment has been tested successfully and it is expected that the Army will soon place orders for this product, said SP Yadav, general manager of GCF.

The equipment can be attached to Army's MI-17 helicopter as well as Navy's Sea King. Although it looks like an ordinary attachment on which the gun is air lifted, the engineering skill lies in ensuring that the gun is lifted along its centre of gravity only. This ensures the stability of both the gun and the chopper. The gun has to be lifted by keeping it in the same position as when it is placed on the ground. The gun should be placed in the same position through out or else the gun may get damaged if it is offloaded in the wrong position. Also, if the gun wobbles while being airlifted it can affect the stability of the chopper which can cause the chopper to crash, said the official.

The 105mm LFG weighs around 2,100kg, and the ultra light guns of 155mm calibre which the Army plans to purchase are almost double the weight. The present 155mm Bofors gun weighs almost 12 tonnes.

The indigenously developed equipment is only capable of helping airlift 105mm guns. Army will be buying the equipment for airlifting 155mm ultra light guns along with the weapon.

The ordnance factory has also developed a mounted version of the 105mm gun. The gun can be placed on a truck and fired. This increases its mobility and enables it to be fired even while shifting positions. The gun was test-fired recently and the ordnance factory hopes that the Army may place an order for its bulk production, said Yadav.

Recently, the factory had developed an indigenous barrel for Russian T-90 tanks. A barrel has to be changed after around 200 to 250 shells are fired. Earlier, the Army had to completely depend on Russia for the supply of the barrels but now it won't be needed as the factory has finally developed the T-90 barrels, he added.

(source TOI)