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Army gets its first artillery guns three decades after Bofors, will be tested at Pokhran today

The Rs 2,900-crore deal, which was a government-to-government deal under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route, was completed in November last year.

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi | Updated: May 18, 2017 8:36 am
artillery guns, inian army, army artillery guns, pokhran testing, pokhran, pokhran artillery guns, ultra light howitzers, BAE Systems, indian express news, india news The M777 howitzer

Nearly three decades after the Bofors howitzers were inducted, the Army has got its first artillery guns from BAE Systems. Two 155mm/39 caliber ultra light howitzers (ULH) will be firing at the Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan on Thursday.

Having initiated the deal for M777 guns with the United States in 2010, the government finally announced a deal for 145 guns on June 26 last year. The Rs 2,900-crore deal, which was a government-to-government deal under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route, was completed in November last year.

The Army has not seen induction of any modern artillery gun after the Swedish Bofors guns were inducted in the late 1980s. There was a controversy over payment of alleged kickbacks in the deal, which put on the backfoot all deals for the modernisation of the artillery.

The Army has plans to equip 169 regiments with 3,503 guns by 2020 but acquisition plans, which include indigenously manufactured guns, have been delayed considerably.

The two M777 guns, which will fire at Pokhran on Thursday, will be used for compilation of firing tables — a calibration for target acquisition with various types of ammunition used with the guns. These guns have been designed for firing Indian ammunition in Indian conditions, and are already in service with the US, Canadian and Australian armies. These guns have been deployed by these armies in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

After these two guns, three M777 guns will come to India in September 2018 and used for training. Thereafter, five guns will be inducted every month from March 2019 to June 2021. These guns, which will equip seven artillery regiments, are capable of firing at a range of 24 to 40 km, depending on the type of ammunition used.

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 modular design of the M777 gun allows it to be towed along narrow and treacherous mountain roads, which dot India’s borders with both Pakistan and China. Moreover, it can be transported to the battlefield, slung under heavy-lift helicopters like the Chinook, which India has signed to acquire from the US. The US-made C130J Super Hercules, used for strategic airlift by India are capable of carrying two M777 guns on a single sortie.

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  1. Sunil Sharma
    May 18, 2017 at 5:49 pm
    LET USE OUR MIGHT TO STOP THOSE TERRORIST FROM ACROSS OUR BOARDERS : ITS BEEN LONG DELA . LET WASTE NO TIME IS LOST IN USING THESE GOOD GUN . LET PROVE TO OURSELVES THESE ARE "Really GOOD" GIVE A ING REPLY TO THOSE NASTY PEOPLE ACROSS OUR BOARDERS. REMEMBER 1999 HOW THE BJP /RSS/VHP HooWLED and SCREAMED IN and out side Parliament about the BAD CHOICE of " Bofor GUNS". BUT when Mr A.B Vajpai GOVT were caught napping in Kargil. It found the stani army had occupied LARGE AREA OF KARGIL . TO THIS DAY stan still occupies 1/3 of Kargil. THE BJP GOVT Realized that by using the "BOFOR GUN" India managed to dislodge stani Position in Kargil. the ROAD COULD BE OPEN . BUT THE THREAT IS STILL THERE TO THE PRESENT DAY. But the hypocrisy is this very bJP /Rss /VHP who said the ""BOFOR GUNS" were bad choice allowed the Army to use without making it PUBLIC. THANK YOU "BOFOR" FOR THE GUNS but Not for the Kickback . Because BJP were not given its share of the Loot. JAI BHARAT
    1. R
      May 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm
      Rajiv Ga nd hi was naive, being new into politics. Perhaps he was not aware of the dirty games politicians were adept at playing to tarnish anyone's image. The Italian connection to the deal was blown out of proportion because of Sonia. In Kargil, things became clearer after Bofors guns proved their effectiveness. The Italian middleman may have made money but it was Rajiv & his wife who had to bear the brunt. Politics is a dirty game in which perceptions rather than the facts are material. Opposition with constant tirade against a political greenhorn succeeded in maligning him & Sonia beyond repair. Media ever wil to snoop & sniff for commercial benefits helped in scandalous propag a n da. Consequently, Congress having burnt it's fingers in the deal became too cautious in purchasing arms. No subsequent government showed interest in purchasing arms partly due to this scandal & also due to heavy capital requirements. India has to be self-reliant in manufacturing high grade weapons.
      1. S
        S K
        May 18, 2017 at 1:07 pm
        One major fall out of the scandal was that the Cong stopped all purchases! St Antony was particularly strict> thank god now it is reversed
        1. M
          May 18, 2017 at 6:27 am
          In the foul smell of Bofor's scandal, an important aspect went unnoticed. The Swedish company had supplied India the FULL blue print for making the guns in India. Whether an attempt was made to do so by our 'lame duck' PSUs, I do not know. It is, however, a huge change in mindset in the GoI, to involve a private sector company, rather than one of the Nehruvian ultra slow SLOTHS in this case, to emble the 120 guns in India.
          1. Ivan
            May 18, 2017 at 8:31 am
            Perhaps if instead of hyperventilating about corruption in the Congress, the Opposition had pla a constructive role and allowed the Bofors guns to be inducted quietly into the Army we would not be in this predicament? Arms deals are not about baby foods. They are lethal products intended to kill. Hence the deals will always be tainted. When it turned out that the most effective weapon in the Kargil War in 2000, was in fact the artillery piece like the Bofors gun, we had to scramble to get similar guns from Singapore.
            1. T
              May 18, 2017 at 8:36 am
              The 1971-war and Kargil victories were established with the arms and ammunitions produced by the Nehruvian "SLOTHS"........stop being an ostrich !
              1. Mayasandra Varadarajan
                May 18, 2017 at 11:56 am
                Also we lost Major part of J & K, Aksichin to China, Indirectly helped Naxels to become strong, Jihadis to challenge India.... very lone list which you have forgotten, which are the great gifts of Neharu family who are cal themselves i (To fool voters.