India To Get First Artillery Guns 30 Years After Bofors Scandal

The Indian Army is all set to receive its first heavy ordnance as the first two guns out of the 145 M777 ultra light artillery guns it ordered from the US will be arriving today, a month ahead of schedule, thus, ending a three-decade-old howitzer drought.

The two 155mm/39 caliber ultra light howitzers will be firing at the Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan today.

“In fulfillment of the United States’ Foreign Military Sale of 145 M777 ultra light weight howitzer to India, we are pleased to confirm that the first two weapon systems will land in India ahead of schedule over this weekend,” a BAE Systems spokesman said in a statement.

“We continue to support the US government in integrating this new weapon system with the Indian Army’s artillery modernisation program,” he added.

The acquisition of the ‘Ultra Light Howitzers’, thus called because at 4.2 tons, they weigh only a third of normal 155 mm howitzers. The guns, which can be carried underslung by heavy lift helicopters like the Chinook, will give the army tremendous flexibility especially along the mountainous border with China.

  1. The guns were expected to arrive in June.
  2. On November 30, India signed the Letter of Agreement and Acceptance (LOA) with the US to purchase 145 M777 ultra-light artillery guns, through the foreign military sale (FMS) route.
  3. The Union Cabinet on November 17 approved the much-awaited deal, which would add tremendous firepower to the Indian Army, especially against China in eastern front.
  4. The air portable 155mm/39 calibre gun, with maximum range of 30 km, is manufactured by BAE Systems.
  5. The $737 million contract has a 30 per cent offset clause worth around $200 million.
  6. Out of 145 guns, BAE will deliver 25 guns and rest 120 will be assembled in India between 48-54 months by BAE partner Mahindra Defence at their plant in Faridabad, Haryana.
  7. The ultra light howitzer is being purchased primarily to deploy on mountains in eastern border with China to provide the much-needed fire power to the Indian Army in the region.
  8. The last artillery guns that India purchased were the much-controversial Swedish Bofors guns in mid-1980s.
The Bofors scandal that broke out nearly 30 years ago had badly hit the artillery modernisation of the Indian Army.

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