In­dia to get 145 M777 Ul­tra Light How­itzers from BAE

The Min­istry of De­fence on May 11, 2012, cleared the 3,000-crore deal to buy 145 M777 ul­tra light how­itzers from the US de­fence man­u­fac­turer, BAE Sys­tems. The deal hav­ing now been cleared, the new equip­ment will im­part a longer op­er­a­tional reach to the fo

SP's LandForces - - TECHNOLOGY - LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) V.K. KAPOOR

IN­DIA’S DE­FENCE MIN­ISTRY HAS given the go-ahead to pur­chase 145 M777 ul­tra light how­itzers from BAE Sys­tems, the coun­try’s first ar­tillery pur­chase since the con­tro­ver­sial Bo­fors deal in 1986. The Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) on May 11, 2012, cleared the 3,000 crore ($660 mil­lion) deal to buy 145 M777 ul­tra light how­itzers from the US de­fence man­u­fac­turer, BAE Sys­tems. The M777 ar­tillery guns will es­sen­tially be used in the moun­tains. These guns are air trans­portable and are cur­rently used in Afghanistan by the US Army where their per­for­mance has been com­mend­able. In­dia is procur­ing the M777 how­itzers from the US through the for­eign mil­i­tary sales (FMS) pro­gramme.

The M777 is a 155mm 39 cal­i­bre towed gun and is the world’s first 155mm how­itzer weigh­ing less than 10,000 lbs (4,218 kgs). The M777 can fire five rounds per minute and its fir­ing range is about 30 km max­i­mum. The US and Canada are cur­rently us­ing the how­itzers. This gun also has a dig­i­tal fire con­trol sys­tem. The US Marine Corps and US Army in­ducted the M777 for the first time in Novem­ber 2002.

The M777 matches the fire­power of cur­rent gen­er­a­tion 155mm towed sys­tems at less than half the weight. The muz­zle ve­loc­ity (at Charge 8 su­per) is 827m/s. The lighter weight and smaller size al­lows the M777 to be trans­ported by CH-47 he­li­copter or truck with ease, so that it can be moved in and out of the bat­tle­field more quickly than other heav­ier guns. The smaller size also im­proves stor­age and trans­port ef­fi­ciency in mil­i­tary de­pots and air/naval trans­port.

Key Data

pre­clude the use of force as an op­tion. Thus pre­ci­sion tech­nolo­gies have been used to de­sign mu­ni­tions which could be em­ployed to over­come such in­hi­bi­tions. PGMs will have to be in­creas­ingly em­ployed to im­prove de­ter­rence, re­duce col­lat­eral dam­age, re­duce lo­gis­tic loads and re­duce risk to the sol­diery. The M 777 Sys­tem al­lows the fir­ing of Ex­cal­ibur pro­jec­tile, a PGM des­ig­nated M777A2.

The M777 will be the ar­tillery sys­tem for the Stryker Bri­gade Com­bat Teams (SBCT) in the US Army. The sys­tems fit­ted with the dig­i­tal fire con­trol sys­tem are des­ig­nated M777A1 and those with the soft­ware up­date al­low the fir­ing of the Ex­cal­ibur pro­jec­tile des­ig­nated M777A2. In the US, all M777A1 sys­tems are be­ing/ have been up­graded to the A2 stan­dard. We hope that the In­dian Army is also in­duct­ing the M777A2 vari­ant.

Se­vere Crunch of Suit­able Ar­tillery Plat­forms

The M777 ar­tillery gun deal comes at a time when the In­dian Army is fac­ing a se­vere crunch of 155mm ar­tillery weapons plat­forms. The last ma­jor ac­qui­si­tion of towed gun-how­itzers was that of 400 pieces of 39-cal­i­bre 155mm FH-77B how-

The M777 matches the fire­power of cur­rent gen­er­a­tion 155mm towed sys­tems at less than half the weight

itzers with a range of 30 km from Bo­fors of Swe­den in 1987, which got em­broiled in po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy. This gun proved its met­tle in the Kargil con­flict. Af­ter about 25 years of ne­glect dur­ing which the 100mm and 122mm field guns of Rus­sian ori­gin and the in­dige­nously de­vel­oped and man­u­fac­tured 75/24 How­itzer joined the long list of ob­so­lete equip­ment, the Army still awaits the pro­cure­ment of about 1,500 How­itzers of 155mm, 52 cal­i­bre.

Op­er­a­tional Fo­cus

Speak­ing to the me­dia on Army Day, Jan­uary 15, 2011, the Chief of Army Staff, Gen­eral V.K. Singh, had re­vealed pub­licly for the first time that the Army would ‘re­or­gan­ise, re­struc­ture and re­lo­cate’ var­i­ous for- ma­tions to help trans­form the Army into a more ag­ile and lethal force. “We are look­ing at re­or­gan­is­ing and re­struc­tur­ing our force head­quar­ters…for faster de­ci­sion-mak­ing, so that it be­comes slightly flat­tened and more re­spon­sive,” he said. Es­sen­tially, the changes are aimed at strength­en­ing the Army’s ca­pac­ity for fight­ing what a serv­ing Gen­eral had once de­scribed as a war on ‘two and a half fronts’—a ref­er­ence to pos­si­ble si­mul­ta­ne­ous con­fronta­tions with Pak­istan and China at the same time as manag­ing an in­ter­nal counter-in­sur­gency ef­fort. In this con­text, an im­por­tant cen­tre of at­ten­tion of the Army will be the moun­tain­ous ter­rain of the North and the North­east, both against China and Pak­istan. Thus with op­er­a­tional fo­cus in the fu­ture to an ex­tent shift­ing to the moun­tains and with ad­di­tional in­fantry di­vi­sions in­clud­ing a moun­tain strike corps be­ing raised for op­er­a­tions in the moun­tains for the Eastern the­atre, the In­dian Army had pro­jected an ad­di­tional de­mand of 145 ul­tra light how­itzers which were to be pro­cured from the US through the for­eign mil­i­tary sales route from BAE Sys­tems. This deal hav­ing now been cleared, the new equip­ment will im­part a longer op­er­a­tional reach to the for­ma­tions de­ployed in the moun­tains.

M777 A2 How­itzer

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