India has canceled a tender to buy 180 howitzer artillery guns for the third time in 10 years.
“The Request for Proposal (RFP) for the procurement of the Howitzers was canceled this year (2012) as both the firms participating in the tender were not able to meet the parameters,” Defense Minister A.K. Antony said in parliament on Dec. 12.
The first RFP for the 155 mm/.52-caliber, self-propelled, wheeled guns for the Indian army was issued in 2002. Five firms responded, but only one company could qualify for the technical evaluation. “The RFP was retracted, however, due to procedural infirmities,” Antony says.
A RFP was issued for a second time in February 2007 to 29 firms, but only two responded. After one offer was rejected due to a procedural deficiency, it left only a single vendor in the competition. The RFP was issued for a third time in February 2008, but neither of the two responding firms could meet the parameters.
The Indian army has not bought modern artillery since the 1980s, when a bribery scandal erupted involving Swedish armament firm Bofors. The company was accused of paying kickbacks to secure the gun deal, resulting in the ouster of then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi from office in 1989.
Since then, the army has not been able to induct even a single piece of new artillery.
The Indian army has been eyeing a $4 billion modernization plan, including 400 towed-howitzers, 180 self-propelled ones and 145 ultralight versions, through intergovernmental deals and global tenders.