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Indian Army gets its first modern artillery gun almost 30 years after Bofors

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Indian army has received two M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer artillery guns from BAE Systems, US. These two guns have been procured under Indian Government’s deal with US Government for total 145 M777 guns.

M777 deal with US:

The deal for M777 guns was initiated US Govt. in 2010.

  • Indian Govt. announced the deal to buy 145 M777 guns in June 2016.
  • This government-to-government deal under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route was completed in November 2016

About M777 Howitzer:

Built with titanium and aluminium alloys, M777 weighs around 4200 kg.It has a modular design; due to which it can be can be easily towed through narrow and treacherous mountain roads prevalent along India-China border and India-Pakistan Border in Jammu & Kashmir.

  • The M777 howitzers come with laser inertial artillery pointing systems (LINAPS). It is capable of firing at a range of 24 – 40 km.Indian Army gets its first modern artillery gun almost 30 years after Bofors
  • These guns have already been inducted in US, Canadian and Australian armies.
  • It was first used by US armies in Afghanistan war.

Induction of M777 Howitzer in Indian Army:

The two guns which have arrived will soon be test-fired at Pokhran, Rajasthan.

  • Another three M777 guns will come arrive in September 2018, which will be used for training.
  • Thereafter, five guns will be inducted every month from March 2019 to June 2021.
  • First 25 guns of the 145 guns will be inducted directly, whereas 120 guns will be assembled in India.
  • BAE Systems has selected Mahindra Group as its Indian partner for assembling imported M777 kits into fully built guns.
  • Total seven artillery regiments of Indian army will be equipped with these guns.

Bofors Controversy:

  • Last instance of artillery guns being inducted into Indian army dates back to 1980s.
  • US$1.4 billion deal between the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors with theIndian Government for the sale of 410 field howitzer guns ran into a controversy as it was alleged that Swedish company paid huge illegal kickbacks to top Indian politicians and defence officials.