A forgotten story
By Col YL Saha
New Delhi. 29 Januray 2016. In an era when indigenisation is the key mantra and Defence Research & Development Organisation(DRDO) getting brickbats for its non-performance, there are veterans who very fondly remember DRDO’s efforts. There are some projects which not only need to be remembered but also told to the world.
The forgotten Self propelled 130 mm Gun on Vijyant Tank chassis designed and manufactured by Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), Avadi & Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF), Avadi, is a success story to be passed on to the generations of not only scientists in DRDO but also the army. Those days HVF was an autonomous body which later on merged with the Ordnance Factories.
In the mid seventies, there was a need felt by the Army to have a self propelled Artillery / A D gun to increase the manuverbility, speed and flexibility to take the guns to most difficult terrains which was not possible in the towed version. This motivated the CVRDE & HVF, Avadi to indigenously develop Self Propelled 130 mm Gun. Nothing was better than the erstwhile Vijyant Tank for this purpose which was being manufactured by the HVF.
Under the leadership Brig Tandon, Director CVRDE ,Brig V Gopalan, GM HVF, technical guidance of Brig Gurbax Singh & Col D’Souza ( all were from Corps of EME) the SP 130 mm Guns were developed.
The major changes to convert the tank into a SP Gun were many. The 100 mm gun of the tank was replaced by the 130 mm gun with minimum modifications to the tank turret & hull. As the gun was too long & heavy, a seventh bogie station was added to the tank i.e. the chassis length was increased to accommodate the seventh bogie station.
The forces developed by the firing of 130 mm gun were too harsh especially the backward force which would move the tank backwards. This forced us to come out with a solution of locking the complete hull to one position when the gun fires. To achieve this, the Shock Absorbers of the tank were redesigned by Usha Tele Hoist Company as per the directive of CVRDE. The system so developed was to do the job of shock absorption and also to lock the tank rigidly in same position during fire. This was successfully achieved.
However 15 such SP Guns were manufactured by HVF, Avadi. I was one of the team members in production and quality inspection. After the successful test trials, these 15 guns were handed over to one of the A D Regiment in 1980 /1981.
I would very strongly recommend to first find out the viabilities of further developing the SP GUNS to increase the speed, manuverbility and to take them to the most difficult terrains as against the ATAGS. We have all the machinery, equipment & the industry (HVF, Avadi).
How such success stories of indigenous technological achievement go to dark corners just because of some whims and fancies of higher hierarchy / bureaucratic approach?
(Col YL Saha is a Delhi-based strategic analyst and was the Founder Director EME-Aviation. The views in the article are solely the author’s. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)