(This News Article Is Originally Posted on The Print by Snehesh Alex Philip)
The Indian Navy is set to junk the proposed acquisition of 13 MK-45 anti-surface and anti-air guns from the US for its 11 under-construction frigates and destroyers, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the defence establishment said the Navy is looking at a larger Make in India initiative for the 127 millimetre (mm) guns rather than opting for the deal with the US, which was cleared by the Donald Trump administration in 2019.
The cost factor was the primary reason behind junking the deal that was to be made under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route, sources said, adding that the 127 mm guns — 13 in number — would have cost India about $1 billion.
“The cost is very high. More than the gun itself, the specialised ammunition is more expensive. The Navy will use the existing 76 mm guns while a larger plan for the 127 mm guns bears fruit. As and when that materialises, the 76 mm guns will be replaced,” said a source.
Another reason was the logistics involved. “Only 11 ships would have had this particular gun system. Logistics and maintenance will have to cater for these 11 ships exclusively,” the source said.
As part of the Naval artillery, the guns are to be fitted on the four new Project 15B Visakhapatnam-class stealth destroyers and the seven Project 17A stealth frigates.
The remaining two guns are destined for the INS Dronacharya missile and gunnery school, and INS Valsura electrical and weapons engineering school.
The 127-mm 62-calibre MK-45 Mod 4 Naval Guns have a Naval Surface Fire Support range of more than 20 nautical miles (36 km). The long-range is basically due to the new 5-inch Cargo projectile and an improved propelling charge.
Plan Was To Procure From Italian Firm
The Navy’s original plan was to procure the 127 mm guns from the Italian firm OTO Melara. But this plan ran into rough weather as the company is owned by Finmeccanica, which is embroiled in the VVIP chopper scam in India.
In 2013, OTO Melara emerged as the sole bidder in the naval gun tender. However, in 2015, then defence minister Manohar Parrikar decided against dealing with Finmeccanica, the key gun supplier to the Navy.
The Navy had then selected the MK 45, which are manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments.
Every naval vessel in the world, including the aircraft carriers, has different types of integrated guns. Except for the 30 mm Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), all these guns form part of naval artillery. READ MORE HERE