After a gap of almost three decades,the Indian Army will get new artillery guns. The defence ministry has cleared procurement of 145 ultra light howitzers from the US for deployment in mountain regions along the China border.
The M 777,the lightest 155 mm artillery gun in the world,will be the first such gun to enter service with the Indian Army after Bofors 27 years ago. The initial order is pegged at US $647 million. Incidentally,M 777 manufacturer BAE now also owns Bofors.
The procurement process had earlier got almost derailed after the M 777 failed to meet the Armys specifications during field trials. With the Army and defence ministry differing on the matter,Antony had appointed a committee under DRDO Chief V K Saraswat for an independent view. Sources said Saraswat made a detailed presentation at todays meeting,holding the guns compliant and technically suitable.
Designed for mountain warfare and transportable by air,the M 777s are primarily used by the US Army,Marines and the Canadian forces,and have been deployed extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Indias requirement,currently pegged at over 1,000 guns,may surge exponentially as the Army raises a new mountain strike corps.
* Lightest 155 mm howitzer,weight 4,218 kg
* Can be placed or displaced in under 3 minutes
* Can fire 4 rounds per minute for two minutes
* Has a range of 24.6 km