Nearly after 30 years after the induction of Bofors howitzers, Indian Army will get its first artillery guns called M777 from BAE Systems. Swedish Bofors guns were inducted in late 1980s after which Army has not inducted any modern artillery guns. The two M777s has arrived in New Delhi and will be tested at the Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan. The two M777 guns will be used for compilation of firing tables. Indian Army has plans to equip 169 regiments with 3,503 guns by 2020.
The deal for procuring M777 guns from the United States was initiated in 2010. Finally, the contract worth Rs 2,900-crore to buy 145 M777 guns were struck in November 2016. The government-to-government deal was struck under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.
The 155 mm/39-caliber howitzers will increase the army’s capabilities in high altitude and will be deployed in the northern and eastern sectors. The modular design of the guns would come handy in towing the guns along the narrow and treacherous mountain roads that is found in India’s borders with both Pakistan and China. It will be especially used by the army’s new mountain strike corps which is being raised to counter China in the Northeast. The new corps is expected to be fully operational by 2025.
The guns can also be airlifted by using heavy-lift helicopters like the Chinook. India has signed an agreement to acquire Chinook from the US. The C130J Super Hercules, which are used for strategic airlift by India is also capable of airlifting M777 guns.
The M777 guns are already in service in the countries like the US, Canada and Australia. These guns were deployed by these armies in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The first 25 guns will be inducted directly. The rest 120 guns will be be assembled in India by BAE Systems in collaboration with Mahindra Defence.