Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

India's army to get first howitzers in three decades

India's army to get first howitzers in three decades

The first two guns of the 145 M777 ultra light artillery guns ordered from the United States will be used for compilation of firing tables - a calibration for target acquisition with various types of ammunition used with the guns in Rajasthan's Pokhran on Thursday.

India has now exorcised the ominous Bofors ghost haunting its artillery modernization plans for the last 30 years.

The Bofors scandal that had taken place during prime ministership of Rajiv Gandhi, had severely crippled the Armys modernisation programme.

India is purchasing 145 pieces of M777 ultra-light artillery guns - specifically howitzers - from BAE Systems in a deal that was finalised with the United States government in December a year ago. The scandal had badly hit the artillery modernisation of the Indian Army. The two 155mm/39 caliber ultra light howitzers (ULH) is being tested at the Pokhran field firing range in Pakistan. The original Swedish Bofors company is now owned by BAE Systems, reported The Times of India.

The 155mm-calibre guns manufactured by BAE Systems are being acquired under the $737 million deal which India inked with the USA in November 2016.

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The guns were expected to arrive in the June. The Army has been demanding 155mm/39-calibre ultra-light howitzers like the M-777s, with a strike range from 24 to 40-km depending on the kind of ammunition used, for nearly 15 years now as part of the overall plan to build robust conventional deterrence against China. These guns have been deployed by these armies in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the first 25 guns will be inducted directly, 120 of the 145 guns will be assembled in India by Mahindra Defence as part of offsets obligation, the report said.

Notably, the guns come a month ahead of schedule.

These guns have been designed for firing Indian ammunition in Indian conditions, and are already in service with the US, Canadian and Australian armies.

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