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 in the 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 Army specifications during field trials. However,today the Defence Acquisition Committee headed by Defence Minister A K Antony cleared the guns as technically suitable. Sources said this followed a detailed presentation by DRDO Chief V K Saraswat,the head of the committee looking into the suitability of the guns.
Designed for mountain warfare and air transportable,the M 777s are primarily used by the US Army and Marines and have been deployed extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The requirement,currently pegged at over 1,000,may rise exponentially as the Army raises a new mountain strike corps.