155mm M-46 Field Howitzer

Crew: 3

Calibre: 155mm/45-calibre.

Recoil: Not Known.

Shield: Optional.

Armament: Not Known.

Rate of Fire: Not Known.

Gun Elevation/Depression: Not Known.

Traverse: Not Known.

Ammunition Range: 39,000 metres (extended range base-bleed charge).

Comments: As part of its Field Artillery Rationalization Plan, the Indian Army is upgrading the 130mm M-46 Field Gun into the 155mm Field Howitzer. An initial batch of 180 guns were upgraded to the 155mm/45-calibre standard by Soltam Systems Limited of Israel. Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, at a Parliamentary session in December 2004, stated that the modernisation contract for 180 guns signed in March 2000 was worth $47,524,137. A MoD press release, dated 29 November 2001, stated that upgrade began at the Gun Carriage Factory in Jabalpur with 180 kits supplied from Israel. Jane's Defence Weekly reported in March 2005, that 36 guns had so far been upgraded to equip two artillery regiments.

The project was suspended by the MoD in mid-2002, because of quality problems. Indian Artillery gunners stated that the upgraded guns could not hit their claimed targets of 40 km, as expected and was considerably less than what had been stated by Soltam. This was indeed surprising, as during demonstration trials by Soltam at Pokhran, Rajasthan in 1997-98, one M-46 field howitzer upgraded to the 155mm/45-calibre standard was successfully test-fired using extended range base-bleed ammunition out to a range of 39 km.

Moshe Charash, Soltam's President - in an interview to Jane's Defence Weekly in February 2004 - stated that the problems with the upgrade program were successfully resolved. This was confirmed by Army Chief, General J J Singh who stated in March 2005 that the problems centered on the barrels and breech blocks of the guns and have been fixed. Soltam was expected to provide kits to further retrofit 220 to 250 guns locally. Thus a total of 400 guns are earmarked for upgrade, but it remains to be seen how many will actually receive a new lease of life. This deal has yet to be signed and may never reach fruition considering the experience with the first batch of 180 guns.

: Not Known.