On 28 August 2021, Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) revealed to local reporters that it developed an in-house 155 mm artillery gun. According to a HIT spokesperson, the Pakistan Army (PA) is currently testing the gun as part of its forthcoming artillery requirements.
HIT did not provide any additional details about the new artillery system, such as whether it is towed or a self-propelled howitzer (SPH). However, the PA has been testing wheeled 155 mm SPHs from China, South Africa, Serbia, and other countries since 2015. Pakistan has yet to announce a winner of these evaluations.
In 2016, IHS Jane’s had forecasted that Pakistan could spend around $1.1 billion US on SPHs by 2024. The last official comment about artillery modernization came from the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. He reportedly said that the PA will modernize its artillery inventory.
Thus far, the bulk of the PA’s modernization comprised of surplus Italian Army M109L tracked SPHs – from 2017 to 2019, Pakistan acquired around 130 units. It is unclear if the PA will further upgrade the M109Ls.
In 2017-2018, the PA acquired Extended Range Full Bore – Base Bleed – Rocket Assisted (HE ERFB BBRA) V-LAP (very long-range artillery projectile) shells for $3.9 million US. Unless the PA retrofitted existing guns or acquired new ones that are capable of firing V-LAP shells, it does not have compatible howitzers.
However, by acquiring V-LAP shells, it is clear that the PA had planned to acquire new howitzers under its near-term modernization roadmap. One of the signature benefits of V-LAP shells is that they offer more range – some models can reach 42 to 52 km or more.
It is possible that HIT’s in-house gun is a step towards wide-scale 155 mm artillery adoption in the PA. In fact, if the PA sources the majority of the high-cost inputs locally, a domestic gun could make new artillery gun adoption relatively affordable. The PA could require hundreds of 155 mm howitzers of various types, including towed as well as wheeled and possibly tracked SPHs.
Interestingly, the PA tested the Turkish Panter 155 mm towed howitzer in 2007. However, the PA did not induct this particular system. In 2017, the PA also tested the South Korean KH179, a 155 mm towed howitzer. It is possible that the HIT gun is a local solution for an apparent towed 155 mm howitzer gun requirement. However, it is interesting that the PA greenlit an original design instead of licensing an off-the-shelf design such as the KH179 or Panter. It may have specific performance requirements in mind, potentially in line with Pakistan’s climate or geographic conditions…
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