First two M777 howitzers arrive in India

The air portable 155mm/39 calibre gun with maximum range of 30 km is manufactured by BAE Systems

The Army would use the first two guns for firing its ammunition to prepare its "range table", sources told DH.

As part of the collaboration, a facility is being set up in India to let Mahindra assemble, integrate and test the M777 howitzers.

"In all, the military will import 25 M-777s directly from BAE systems, the manufacturer of the guns". For three decades, the army did not induct a single big gun.

The M-777 guns, manufactured by the BAE Systems, are being taken to Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan for test firing.

Last November, India entered into a contract with the USA government under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme for buying 145 BAE Systems-built M777 A-2 artillery guns in a $737-million deal.

In a major boost for the Indian Army, the first two guns out of the 145 M777 ultra light artillery guns, manufactured by BAE Systems in the U.S., will be delivered to India over this weekend.

The M777 guns have been designed for firing Indian ammunition in Indian conditions, and are already in service with the US, Canadian and Australian armies.

India had last procured howitzers in the mid-1980s from Swedish defence major Bofors. They will be equipped with the new guns.

Thereafter, induction will commence from March 2019 onwards with five guns per month till complete consignment is received by mid 2021. And they can be brought to the battlefield with the help of Chinook. "We continue to support the United States government in integrating its weapon systems with the Indian Army's artillery modernisation programme", the official said.

The latest deal, worth almost 50 billion rupees, was signed previous year and will see 25 guns being delivered in ready-to-use condition with the rest being assembled by BAE Systems in India.

"The skyrocketing price of these guns is due to the usage of the Titanium metal, which is now unavailable in India".

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