Artillery: February 27, 2002


Russia and India signed a contract for 8,000 laser-guided Krasnopol artillery shells on 8 February 2002. The first batch of 2,000 shells was worth $80 million. Originally developed for the Soviet 152mm family of howitzers, Krasnopol Terminally Guided Munitions (TGMs) are laser-guided projectiles used for precision shelling. India purchased a modified round for their 155mm Bofors guns.

India's acquisition process for these rounds has been plagued with problems. In August 1999, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) accused the Ministry of Defense of purchasing 1000 Krasnopol TGMs and 10 laser designators (at a cost of $31 million) without validating their usefulness. The CAG observed that a condition for further trial was imposed in the contract as the Krasnopol's effectiveness was not been proven during the February-March 1999 trials.

The Army confirmed that Krasnopol munitions were able to hit only 25 to 30% of targets in the Kargil sector during field trials. The October-November 1999 Krasnopol re-trial showed that the rounds were (in most cases) incompatible with the Bofors 155mm howitzers - which played a key role in the high-altitude areas where the Kargil war was fought. 

However, several senior Indian Army officers who witnessed the trials acknowledged that the shells might not be successful in the mountains under all conditions, they remained well disposed towards them. Many weapons systems have teething problems when new. 

The Russians had tested the Krasnopol on their steppes and on the highest range in Russia's Northern Caucasus (which only reach an altitude of 2,500 meters). Several live rounds were also fired on the massive test range at the GEROTEK facility in South Africa in 1999, to proof the round on the GV6 self-propelled gun-howitzer. The manufacturers made the appropriate modifications and updated their firing tables to altitudes of 4,700 m. 

Greece also considers the Krasnopol superior to the US Copperhead missiles and announced plans to acquire them in early February. - Adam Geibel


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