Thursday, 29 March 2012

Defexpo 2012: Kalyani Group artillery to be featured

The Austrian Maschinenfabrik Liezen (MFL) 155 mm, 45-calibre gun that the Kalyani Group has imported, along with an entire gun-making factory that it bought from RUAG, Switzerland. The Kalyanis are making an ambitious foray into gun-making, with the intention of playing a major role in manufacturing India's large requirement of artillery

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 29th May 12

Army chief General V K Singh’s leaked letter to defence minister A K Antony, which flagged the country’s lack of defence preparedness, casts a shadow over Defexpo India 2012, which kicks off in New Delhi tomorrow. However, the silver linings in the four-day event would be the impressive presence of several Indian private companies and newcomers in developing complex weaponry, with capabilities the defence ministry (MoD) can no longer ignore.

Among the most visible would be the Pune-headquartered Kalyani Group, which would emphatically project its ambition to develop artillery systems for the Indian Army. With foreign artillery procurement stalled for two decades, Baba Kalyani — who has shaped his flagship company, Bharat Forge, into the world’s largest forgings manufacturer — has committed the finance, the manpower and the strategic mind space he believes would make the Kalyani Group a full-spectrum developer of artillery systems.

Kalyani intends to start by building a 155 mm, 52-calibre towed howitzer, which the army desperately wants. Several years of user trials of foreign guns have only resulted in vendors being rejected, blacklisted, or withdrawn from the contest. Kalyani is now boldly offering an Indian alternative.

“I will offer to the Indian Army a fully developed artillery gun system, integrating all the command and control elements, before 2015,” he asserts.

To this end, the Kalyani Group has imported from Austrian gun manufacturer Maschinenfabrik Liezen (MFL) a service version of its famous 155 mm, 45-calibre, autonomous gun system, which had impressed Indian gunners when they evaluated it in the mid-1980s (though they bought the Bofors gun instead).

The Kalyani Group has also bought, knocked down and transported to India an entire operational artillery gun factory from Swiss company RUAG. Instead of learning the ropes of manufacturing artillery from scratch, Kalyani’s designers in Pune intend to absorb foreign technology, thereby leapfrogging an extended development process. Unlike many Indian private companies, Baba Kalyani is investing his own money into building capabilities. Given Bharat Forge’s hardcore engineering pedigree, he is confident he has the solution.

Says Kalyani: “There are the DRDO ((Defence Research & Development Organisation), the OFB (Ordnance Factory Board) and other excellent organisations that have design talent and capability. What India lacks is the ability to convert designs into manufactured products. This is where the Kalyani Group comes in. Building an artillery gun system is largely about materials, forgings and manufacturing. We have in our group the capability to be a top-class manufacturer of precision products.”

Kalyani Steel would provide the steel and metallurgy. The drives, engine, transmission, etc would be built by Automotive Axles Ltd, the Rs 2,000-crore Kalyani Group company and the largest manufacturer of axles in the region.

Alongside the engineering bravado, there is realism, too, about the Kalyani Group’s inexperience in creating the sophisticated software that underpins the gun control, fire correction and command and control systems, about 50 per cent of the overall gun system.

“Our strategy is to collaborate with entities that already have capabilities in electronics and guidance. (For this) we are in constant dialogue with the DRDO and the MoD. But we are confident about the precision engineering needed for the mechanical parts of the gun,” says Kalyani.

The only “missing link”, as Kalyani puts it, is the reliance on the MoD for testing facilities. Guns under development must be periodically tested through live firing. In India, this can only be conducted in cooperation with the Army. The MoD, rattled by the repeated failures of artillery gun procurement programmes, has already initiated two projects in the public sector to develop an artillery gun. The OFB has been asked to construct two 155 mm, 39-calibre guns from the engineering drawings that came with the Bofors gun in the mid-1980s. The OFB would then try to upgrade these into longer-range 155 mm, 45-calibre guns.

Simultaneously, the MoD has sanctioned Rs 150 crore for the DRDO to develop a 155 mm, 52-calibre gun. The DRDO’s Armament R&D Establishment (ARDE), Pune, would soon float a tender for an Indian industrial partner, in which the Kalyani Group intends to bid.

Such is the aggressiveness within the Group that it intends to develop its own gun on a parallel track, even if it becomes an industrial partner to the DRDO for the ARDE’s gun. Rajinder Bhatia, who would head this project, says, “We are willing to compete against ourselves. On one track, we will work with the DRDO, funded by the government. On our own track, we will fund ourselves. Baba Kalyani is willing to commit Rs 100 crore for this.”


Anonymous said...

hmmm, so I come here to comment, and what do I see? I see what I just saw in LiveFist. Anyways, I am little afraid DRDO is going to kill such endeavors...because the way I see it, DRDO will seize to exist if it allows private sector in the defense industry. Hope such initiatives are nurtured by the government. Thank you for this article.


Anonymous said...

unless we get rid of congressi idiots this country isn't secure..all sonia wants to do is to weaken India, there is a clear pattern as why congress is using corrupts like lalu yadav to demand generals usual prince charming the great rahul baba who control this dysfunct govt won't speak a word nor will Mother of India shrimati sonia gandhi devi jee mata....why country doesn't have simple things like guns and bullets....and yeah y NDTV is so obsessed with a bootlicker like manishankar aiyer...he serves just 10 Janpath not country..shame..shame..shame...shame..

Rahul said...

Only hope this also don't go the L&T (SSK) way because in Bharat there is always a possibility of delay after which user says "no time, just buy from abroad".

Anonymous said...

... ...

Aman said...

About Time, The Private sector should have been let in a long time ago but sadly Indian politicians are still too scared of let go of their socialist roots. I hope the Kalyani Group group will set a successful precedent for other local companies in the defence manufacturing space.

Anonymous said...

After all the money Kalyani and company has invested (spent), I hope they can either sell their product to the Indian Army, or other willing nations.

Anonymous said...

I think the IIT and public sector mindset, the brainchild of a socialist Nehru needs to be unravelled, if India is to become great in Capitalist economy. We are being dragged backwards by this yoke of public sector undertakings which deliver too little too late while eating a lot. Private research, private testing facilities and private sector defence industrial build up is necessary if India is to ever produce anything worthwhile. I am sure our Ruling parties know this, there headache is the useless "comman man" slogan. There is an old saying, "First help yourself then help others". However I see exactly the opposite in India, where we are spending precious resources, ameliorating the conditions of slum dwellers and public sector defence orgs who don't have moral literacy/ethics and work efficiency as that found in private ventures. I think a revision of the constitution is in order, along with the structure of multi party political spectrum at national level, in order to pursue a bright future in this new century. The Nehruvian mindset has been the cornerstone of the past century, we need new mindset for this century, certainly the socialist mindset does not serve the current environment of high growth requirements. I hope the DPSU chiefs are reading these comments and should realize their future and hazard they are creating by continuing to embrace the Nehruvian trend. A space age India needs new private sector leaders, not some idealistic idiots.

Anonymous said...

A Bold move indeed somthing the Gov should have done 10 yrs ago atleast the Govt should not stop such endevours as it will benefit the nation also will bring forigen currency from sale to other countries DRDO pull up your socks there is new kid on block and he means business ya business

Anonymous said...

Good luck to Kalyani group. As long as the profit motive doesnt make the company start bribing officers to let in substandard stuff, this will give India a boost.

Of course Kalyani group will have to face the wrath of DRDO,and the ilk of HAL, NAL..not in their roduce but in politics cause the directors of HAL,NAL, DRDO now know their capabilities will be in the open with indian competition and their bullshit is alrerady gone too far.

Anonymous said...

Thats a brave idea it will give a chance for INDIAN Engineers to prove their worth . I hope DRDO encorage such healthy competetions.