New Delhi: After three decades, the Indian army received new artillery guns. An agreement was signed with the US for 145 ‘M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzer’ artillery guns. The first two of the artillery guns were delivered to India for testing. The two guns were tested at the Pokharan desert. India conducted its first nuclear test 43 years ago on 18th of May. It appears that India has celebrated its first nuclear test by testing the ‘Howitzer’ artillery guns on the very same day.
The Indian army had a requirement for the modern artillery guns and have been making regular demands for them since the past few years. However, after being accused of being involved with malpractices in the artillery guns purchase in the 80’s, the procurement process of the artillery guns was stalled.
However, since the last few years the army has been stressing on upgradations. Accordingly, the process of the artillery guns purchase which was an army requirement, was sped up. For the modernization of the army’s artillery, the central government had outlined a plan with a provision of 22 thousand crore rupees. As per the plan, by year 2020, the army regiments would be equipped with 3,503 guns. Negotiations for the purchase of ‘M-777 Ultra Light Howitzer’s had begun with the US in the year 2010. After negotiations that lasted for more than 5 years, a deal of Rs. 2,900 crores was signed with the US company ‘BAE systems’ in June last year.
145 ‘Howitzer’ guns will be purchased from ‘BAE systems’. The first two artillery guns from this purchase agreement have been delivered to India. The ‘M-777 Ultra Light Howitzer’ guns are capable of firing at a range of 40 kms. While these guns are capable of firing in the Indian atmosphere, these light weight guns can also be deployed at high altitude areas like Ladakh.
Next year by September, three more of these artillery guns would be delivered to India. Whereas five guns would be handed over to the Indian army every month from the year 2019 to 2021. 120 out of the 145 artillery guns will be manufactured by ‘BAE systems’ in India itself. For this purpose, a deal has been signed with the ‘Mahindra Defence’ company. The U.S., Canadian and Australian army regiments are equipped with the ‘M-777 Ultra Light Howitzer’ artillery guns. The U.S. has deployed these artillery guns in Afghanistan as well as Iraq and have proved their capabilities with them.
Keeping the demands of the artillery guns of the Indian army in mind, such guns are also being purchased from other companies apart from ‘BAE systems’. The Indian company, ‘L&T’ is developing the 155 mm/52-caliber ‘Vajra – T Self-Propelled Howitzer’ by collaborating with the South Korean company, ‘Hanwha Tech’. In next three years, 100 artillery guns would be delivered to the army. Apart from this, the army would also be purchasing the indigenously manufactured 414 ‘Dhanush Guns’. The indigenous ‘Dhanush’ artillery guns have been recently upgraded. After the upgrade, the ‘Dhanush’ guns are now capable of firing at an increased range of 38 kms from their previous range of 28 kms. These guns have been successfully tested.