The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on October 25, 2018, in South Block, New Delhi, India, for up gradation of the existing 130 mm M-46 artillery guns to 155 mm/45 calibers. The contract was signed between Alok Prasad, Deputy Director General/Weapons, OFB and Ms. Nidhi Chhibber, JS & AM (LS) on behalf of Ministry of Defence.
This upgraded weapon system has been christened as ‘Sharang’ after the bow of Lord Vishnu, which was crafted by Lord Vishwakarma. This is an example of ‘Make in India’ and bears an indelible stamp of the OFB as a leading manufacturer of artillery guns.
‘Sharang’ is developed to meet the Indian Army’s requirement of replacing the existing Russian-made 130 mm caliber M-46 towed guns, which have been in service since 1968. This up-gunning is a highly cost effective solution to substantially enhance the strategic capabilities of the Indian Army in terms of range (an increase from the existing 27 km to 39 km), lethality (130 mm ammunition to 155 mm ammunition), and artillery area coverage against the enemy. The gun is capable of firing NATO series ammunition also with the old 130 mm chassis. This will be a big step in the ongoing modernisation efforts of the Indian Army. India can profitably explore the export potential of this gun in the long run. ‘Sharang’ successfully scored high in the ‘accuracy and consistency’ trials, which was 10 to 100 times better than the specified RFP values.
‘Sharang’ weighs 8.4 tonnes, with an overall length and width of 11.84 m and 2.45 m, respectively. The barrel is approximately 7 m long and is equipped with a single baffle muzzle brake and horizontal sliding wedge breech block. A semi- utomatic operating device enables auto opening of the gun breech and a pneumatic ramming system eases the effort of the gun crew while ramming the projectile during gun firing. OFB would be required to up-gun 300 existing 130 mm M-46 guns to 155 mm/45 calibers. These are to be supplied to the Indian Army within four years.
The OFB was awarded this contract after emerging victorious in a competition where two guns of foreign origin also participated. This was against a request for proposal issued by the Indian Army in 2013. OFB presented a fully indigenous solution against the other two equipment of foreign origin.
Various performance parameters, viz. maximum range, direct fire, rate of fire, accuracy, and consistency, among others, were evaluated during the Field Evaluation Trials (FET) through actual firing at the Pokhran range. OFB’s ‘Sharang’ is the only compliant gun after the completion of the trials.
The credit for this achievement goes to the establishments under the OFB for carrying out optimisation of design through in-house research and development at the Ordnance Development Centre, Kanpur and subsequent production also at Ordnance Factory Kanpur which has state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities.