January 27, 2020
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‘I Didn't Want Bofors’

Former vice-chief of Army Lt Gen. (retd) H.N. Kaul, who had recommended the French Sofma gun instead of Bofors, was questioned by the CBI on February 4. He spoke to Outlook.

‘I Didn't Want Bofors’
What was the technical evalution committee's assessment of the contract ?

There is no such thing as a technical evaluation committee. In the Army, the final evaluation is done by the general staff and this is based on extensive trials in different parts of the country. The trials were carried out in the case of the Bofors gun and in all the four gun systems the Army was evaluating. The trial units reported the results to the Army Headquarters, where it was studied, analysed and then evaluated.

why did Gen. Sunderji opt for Bofors ?

When Sundarji was deputy chief of the Army, he had also listed the French gun system as number one. And so had I when I succeeded him. Two weeks after Sundarji became Army chief, he chose Bofors.

What were Sundarji's reasons for the change ?

First, he mentioned that it was only in 1985 that he came to know the Americans had passed on a gun locating radar to Pakistan. (This necessitated a gun system which had a shoot-and-scoot facility and could avoid detection on the radar). However, Sundarji is factually incorrect because we had the information about the gun locating radar in 1982-’83 itself from military journals. Second, Sundarji said he opted for Bofors because it had the shoot-and-scoot capability. The French gun system had that facility too. Therefore, Bofors was not chosen on grounds of merit.

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