Army to welcome Howitzer M777 this weekend; first deal since Bofors scandal broke out in 1980s

By: | Updated: 18 May 2017 02:22 PM

(Image: ANI)

New Delhi: India is all set to enhance its military might by inducting the ultra light Howitzer M777, procurred from the United States Government under its Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.

Out of the 145 guns ordered, two will make way to India on Friday, ahead of the schedule, and the remaining will take another five or six months.

In addition to this, only 25 guns will be delivered by the U.S., remaining 120 will be assembled by Mahindra Defence under the government's flagship programme 'Make in India.'

The Centre sealed the deal with the U.S. government on November 17 which is worth Rs. 4,700 crore.

Lt. Gen V.K. Chaturvedi told ANI, "The total deal is worth Rs. 4,700 crore. Bofors is a pretty expensive gun. A single gun may cost Rs. 30 to 32 crore. The sky rocketing price is due to the usage of the Titanium metal, which is currently unavailable in India."

"It is because of this metal, that the Howitzer is dubbed as a 'light weight military weapon'. The metal brings down the overall weight of the artillery gun outright," Lt. Gen Chaturvedi added.

These artillery guns with the range of 30 kilometers will bolster the Indian Army's firing might especially against China in the eastern front and in out-of-area contingency. It will be deployed on mountains in the eastern border with China.

The FMS programme eliminates the role of all the brokers, who can be involved, and ensures transparent sales, which take place one on one between the governments. This, in turn, blocks the chances of any scams that the transactions may lead to.

This deal is the first since Bofors scandal broke out in the 1980s.

About Bofors scandal

It was a major political scandal that occurred between Sweden and India during the 1980s and 1990s, initiated by Congress party politicians and implicating the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, plus several other members of the Swedish and Indian governments who were accused of receiving kickbacks.

The Bofors scandal relates to illegal kickbacks paid in a US$1.4 billion deal between the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors with the government of India. It was for the sale of 410 field howitzer guns, and a supply contract almost twice that amount. In Sweden, it was the biggest arms deal ever and money marked for development projects was diverted to secure this contract at any cost.

About M777 howitzer

The M777 howitzer is a towed 155 mm artillery piece and succeeded the M198 howitzer in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army in 2005.

It is also used by the ground forces of Australia, Canada, India and Saudi Arabia. M777 made its combat debut in the War in Afghanistan.

It is manufactured by BAE Systems' Global Combat Systems division and its prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the UK as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components.

M777's final integration and testing of the weapon is undertaken at BAE's facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

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First Published: 18 May 2017 02:19 PM
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