Indian Army gets M777 howitzers 30 years after Bofors scandal

After 3 decades of Bofors scandal Army to get its first artillery guns

India has bought 145 M777 ultra light artillery guns at a cost of about $750 million from the US

Last week, engineering conglomerate Larsen and Toubro (L&T) was awarded a contract to supply 100 self-propelled howitzers to the Indian Army at a cost of Rs 4,500 crore The first batch of the 155mm/52 calibre tracked self- propelled (SP) gun - K9 VAJRA-T - will be delivered later this year and the entire supply will be made within next 42 months.

The purchase of Bofors guns from Swedish company triggered controversy after reports that the company paid kickbacks to top Indian politicians for the deal. Successive governments stayed away from upgrading artillery fearing a repeat. Two 155mm, 39-caliber ULH (Ultra Light Howitzers) will hold a range of about 30 KM to the maximum.

After a series of border transgressions by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and an aggressive Chinese posture, the UPA Government raised a corp exclusively dedicated to the Northern borders.

File image of the M-777. And they can be brought to the battlefield with the help of Chinook.

India on Thursday received the first two of 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers as part of the $750 million dollar contract signed with the U.S. in November 2016. "We continue to support the USA government in integrating its weapon systems with the Indian Army's artillery modernisation programme", the official said. A BAE Systems spokesperson said the two guns have landed in India "ahead of schedule".

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The M777 ultra-light howitzers will be mostly will be deployed in high-altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, bordering China.

Over the next year, another 23 guns will be delivered off the shelf and another 120 will be sent in a semi-knocked down condition, to be assembled in India by Mahindra.

A defence ministry source told AFP the delivery of the guns would be expedited from March 2019 onwards. And, despite efforts to manufacture spares for the guns in India, serviceability is a problem. With two infantry divisions geared for mountain warfare, and associated artillery, air defence and armoured brigades, the 17 Corps will be fully in place with 90,274 troops by 2021. They will be majorly used as a deterrent against China. "But importantly, they are lighter and carried be moved faster". It is because of this metal, that these howitzers are dubbed as a lightweight military weapon.

"Future conflicts will be short and intense".

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