Indian Army gets M777 howitzers 30 years after Bofors scandal
The weapon system was contracted on 30 November 2016 and as per the contract agreement firing tables is being prepared by the contracted agency, that is, US Government and BAE GCS Ltd with the support of Indian Army.
After a 30-year wait for new artillery guns since the Bofors scandal, the Indian Army on 18 May 2017 received the first two M-777 A-2 (Indian) ultra-light howitzers (ULH) from BAE systems of the US.
This is a part of an order for 145 long-range guns which will be mostly deployed on borders. The M-777 A-2 (Indian) ultra-light howitzers (ULH) having a maximum range of 30 km were being taken to Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan for test firing.
After firing tables are ready, three more guns will be received in the second stage in September 2018 for training. Thereafter, induction will commence from March 2019 onwards at the rate of five guns per month till complete consignment is received by mid-2021.
While 25 guns will come in a fly-away condition, the rest will be assembled in India by the BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence. The 155 mm, 39-calibre guns will fire Indian ammunitions.
The Indian Army is in urgent need of ULH so it had proceeded through a government-to-government deal with the US in November 2016 for the supply of the 145 howitzers at a cost of nearly Rs 5000 crore. India had last procured howitzers in the mid-1980s from Swedish defence major Bofors.
When last modern artillery gun was inducted in Army?
Swedish Bofors was the last modern artillery gun that was inducted into the Army in last 1980s and start of 1990s, when late Rajiv Gandhi led Congress was in power in the country. Later the deal with Swedish arms giant AB Bofors was caught in corruption of kickbacks of about Rs 1500 crore.