IN­DIA, US READY TO SIGN DEAL FOR 145 M777 UL­TRA-LIGHT HOW­ITZERS

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His­tory may be around the cor­ner for the In­dian Army’s ar­tillery reg­i­ment, with the first ever ac­qui­si­tion deal for how­itzer guns since the Bo­fors scam in the 1980s. The US Pen­tagon has pro­vided fi­nal no­ti­fi­ca­tion to the US Congress on the $885-mil­lion sale to In­dia, the fi­nal step be­fore a for­eign mil­i­tary sales (FMS) deal is signed be­tween the two gov­ern­ments. The con­tract has taken more than seven years to come to fruition, in­clud­ing sev­eral bumps along the way. The new guns will breathe fresh life into a be­lea­guered ar­tillery arm that re­signed it­self to us­ing vin­tage guns for nearly two decades.

A deal with BAE Sys­tems, which cur­rently owns Bo­fors De­fence, is likely be­fore the end of the fis­cal, and will mark another ma­jor step ahead for Indo-US de­fence re­la­tions. The M777 will be de­ployed in the north-east and Ladakh, and will be air­mo­bile with the IAF’s new heavy-lift fleet.

—SP’s Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

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