The Indian Army is asking Thales and BAE SYSTEMS to bid on a multimillion-dollar contract to produce hundreds of acoustic rangefinders that can locate and identify enemy guns by their sounds.
Dubbed Sound Ranging Systems, the devices will be used in mountainous Jammu and Kashmir, where a number of Indian troops died in the 1999 Kargil battle from Pakistani artillery, a senior Defence Ministry procurement official said.
The rangefinders will detect 80mm and bigger mortars, 100mm and bigger artillery, and tank fire in urban or mountain terrain, an Army artillery official said. They must be able to detect artillery from 20 kilometers away, and in a full circle, the official said.
The devices, which must be set up quickly and used by troops with little training, will be spread along the Pakistani and Chinese borders, the Army official said.
The ones in the Kashmir valley will send their information via secure digital VHF radios to local and theater command posts, where the data will be used to plot Pakistani artillery batteries on a map, he said.
The official gave no specific cost for the expected contract.
Meanwhile, India is using two leased AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder weapon-locating radars from the United States. A dozen more will arrive in 2006, thanks to a $190 million-plus deal signed in September 2001.
“The Sound Ranging Systems are much cheaper than the Firefinder weapon-locating radar and are more useful in Indian conditions,” a senior Indian artillery officer said.