India-US sign Rs 5,000 cr deal for 145 M777 howitzer guns

India has signed a deal with the US for importing 145 M777 lightweight Howitzers for the Indian Army today. The deal will cost Rs 5,000 crore. The Defence Ministry had given its nod for the deal in October this year to strengthen Army, which was facing an armament crunch especially in this segment of the weaponry. The M777 Howitzer from BAE system is a 155mm 39 calibre towed gun.

According to the manufacturer of the gun, BAE Systems, the M777 is a highly portable gun and will prove to be a big positive in the defence arsenal. The gun is portable by land, sea and air. This means that the system can be easily moved and re-deployed as per the defence forces’ needs in all theaters of war.

The gun has a maximum unassisted range of 24.7 km and an assisted range of 30 plus km. According to BAE, the gun has a scorching rate of fire of as much as 5 rounds per minute for up to 2 minutes. Even though it has a massive fire-power, it is light enough and mobile enough to be easily lifted by helicopters like the Chinook, which India has already ordered from another US company, the aviation major Boeing.

According to a PTI report, 25 guns will come to India in ready condition, the other 120 will be assembled in India at the proposed Assembly Integration and Test facility for the weapon system. This will be a big boost for indigenous production of necessary or crucial armament for India. For this, BAE is looking to tie-up with the Mahindra group.

“The modern artillery was much needed for the Indian army,” said Colonel KV Kuber, Independent Consultant Defence and Aerospace. He said that M777 is comparable to the dependable Bofors guns in terms of performance and in fact, is better than it across a number of requirements. It is light-weight, in fact it weighs half of the Bofors gun.

The M777 will help greatly in carrying out surgical strikes and interdiction operations of the Indian security forces. These types of guns are specially meant for the mountains because they can clear heights easily.