Indian Army to get two M777 Howitzers artillery guns
Washing away the dirt from the Bofors scam, the 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers from the US will soon be inducted as India's first modern 155mm artillery guns since the 1980s. The first guns will arrive on a chartered aircraft from the UK and will be taken to the Pokhran ranges for testing. It has been developed by Britain's BAE systems.
The ultra-light weight Field Howitzer (UFH), designated M777 in the USA, is a towed 155 mm artillery piece, successor to the M198 Howitzer in the US Marine Corps and US Army. M777 made its combat debut in 2007, in the Afghanistan war.
The army will test the guns to collect data, which will be useful when the gun is in operation. Sources said, "The firing tables, with the guns being tested for different kinds of Indian ammunition with bi-modular charges, will take some time to be formulated."
India has ordered 145 M777s. Of these, 25 will be imported, while 120 will be assembled in India in collaboration between BAE systems and Mahindra. The first two will arrive in India on 18 May. After that, sources said the delivery schedule will quicken from 2019. From March 2019 5 guns will be delivered every month. All 145 will be inducted by June 2021.
The army has not included any new artillery weapons since the 1980s. The procurement is to bolster defences on the Sino-Indian front. Being light-weight and easy to transport, it can be quickly airlifted to Ladakh or Arunachal. The M777 will equip the new 17 Mountain Strike Corps, which will be fully in place with 90,274 troops by 2021.
The government also signed a Rs. 4366 crore contract with L&T for the supply of 100 155mm/52-calibre tracked guns called K-9 Vajra-T, in collaboration with South Korean firm Hanwha Tech Win. The guns are to be delivered in 42 months.