3 Decades After Bofors, US sends First M777 ultra light artillery to India
After three decades, the Indian Army received its first heavy ordnance as the first two guns out of the 145 M777 ultra light artillery guns it ordered from the US which arrived, a month ahead of schedule.
The air portable guns that arrived today will be used to shore up defences in high-altitude areas against China. The 155 mm, 39-calibre gun will have a maximum range of 30 km.
In all, the military will import 25 M-777s directly from BAE systems, the manufacturer of the guns. The rest will be assembled in India in collaboration with Mahindra Defence Systems.The contract was signed in November 2016.
The last artillery guns that India bought were the controversial Swedish Bofors guns in the mid-1980s. But the US $1.4 billion deal was mired in controversy after reports that the Swedish company had paid US$ 9.9 million (Rs. 64 crores) in kickbacks to top Indian politicians. It cost then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi a chance to return to power in the next election; it also slowed down defence procurement considerably.
Earlier this month, the Indian company Larsen & Toubro bagged its biggest defence order to supply another key system to the Army. L&T, which has partnered with the South Korean company Hanwha Tech Win (HTW) will be assembling 100 units of 155mm, 52 calibre K9 Vajra-T self-propelled howitzers.
Back in the eighties, India had received the blueprints of the Bofors gun but the manufacture of the weapon system never began given the controversy surrounding the deal. The Bofors gun has proven to be outstanding in service with the Indian Army and played a decisive role during the 1999 Kargil conflict.
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