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