The Dhanush is a 155 mm/45 calibre towed howitzer used by the Indian Army. The design is based on the Bofors Haubits FH77 by the Swedish defense contractor Bofors (now BAE Systems) which India acquired in the 1980s. The Dhanush Towed Howitzer currently has 81% indigenous content which opens the gateway for future production and ease of maintenance of the gun. It also gives a boost to the development of indigenous industrial base in the country. The howitzer completed development trials in 2018 and the first batch of Dhanush Towed Howitzer handed over to Indian Army by Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) on 8 April 2019. The per-unit price is a little over $2 million. Indian Army has ordered 114 guns and the total order size could increase to 414 guns.
The main armament of the Dhanush consists of one 155 mm/52 caliber gun. The towed howitzer is based on schematics supplied by Bofors/BAE Systems under a technology transfer agreement concluded in the late 1980s. The Dhanush howitzer is a reverse-engineered upgraded variant of the original Bofors design which were acquired by the Indian Army between 1987 and 1991. In comparison to the FH-77B, the Dhanush’s barrel is 877 millimeters longer and weighing less than 13 tons. The Dhanush reportedly has a maximum effective range of 38 kilometers in salvo mode compared to the 39-caliber, 27-kilometer range of the FH-77B. According to an official, the current version of the Indian howitzer is made of 81 per cent of local components, which should increase to 90 per cent by 2019.
The Dhanush Towed Howitzer is equipped with an auxiliary power unit that provides it with all the energy necessary for electrical and fluid equipment and can travel at 10 km/h under its own power to reach its firing position. The gun is equipped with inertial navigation-based sighting system, auto-laying facility, on-board ballistic computation and an advanced day and night direct firing system. The self-propulsion unit allows the gun to negotiate and deploy itself in mountainous terrains with ease. The howitzer is has been mechanically upgraded to fire standard NATO 155 mm ammunition and can accommodate both boll bags and the bi-modular charge system (BMCS) which have resulted in increasing the range. The howitzer is capable of firing eight rounds per minutes and needs a crew of six to eight artillerymen.
India’s Defense Research and Development Organization has also been working on an upgraded variant of the Dhanush howitzer, designated Dhanush Version 2 (v2) with a larger caliber 45 to 52 millimeter — and a slightly increased range — 38 to 42 kilometers. No contract has been signed for the Dhanush Version 2. A vehicle mounted variant of the gun called Mounted Gun System was showcased by OFB at the Defexpo 2018 show. The gun is mounted on a 8×8 Tatra truck license manufactured by BEML and has a 30 km/h cross country speed and 80 km/h road speed.