India on 30 November 2016 signed a $750 million government-to-government deal for 145 M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzers with the US. The deal was signed under the US Foreign Military Sales programme.
The deal signed after years of negotiations is the first major artillery deal signed by India after Bofors scandal of the late 1980s. The two nations were discussing the deal to buy BAE Systems´ M777 ultra-lightweight guns since 2012.
As per the deal, the manufacturer BAE Systems will deliver 25 guns in ready-to-use condition and the remaining 120 guns will be assembled in India. Earlier in February 2016, BAE Systems said that it had chosen Mahindra Group of India as its local offset partner.
The deal was finalised during the 15th India-US Military Cooperation Group (MCG) that was held in New Delhi between 30 November and 1 December 2016.
India-US MCG is a forum established to progress Defence Cooperation between HQ Integrated Defence Staff and US Pacific Command at the strategic and operational levels. It will be used by the army’s mountain artillery divisions along India’s high-altitude frontiers.
M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzers
Last time, India purchased howitzers in 1986 in form of Bofors by the Swedish arms giant AB Bofors. Later, the Rs. 1500 crore deal was caught in corruption allegations. Allegations were that the company paid kickbacks to Indian politicians including the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for selling artillery guns to the Indian Army. But till date, no Indian Court has established that there was a scandal in the deal.
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