The Defense Acquisition Council recently approved the purchase of the much-awaited ultra light Howitzers from the United States. The Indian Assembly and an integration facility in India created by Mahindra will account for the delivery of 120 Howitzers, whereas the rest 25 pieces will be imported from the United States.
The US delegates issued a letter of acceptance in reply to India’s request for the purchase of Howitzers earlier last month, and the DAC examined the terms and conditions before accepting the deal on June 25. The estimated budget of this weapons deal is $750.
It is for the first time in last 30 years that the Indian Army is importing artillery guns from abroad. The last time Indian Army imported artillery was during the Bofors acquisition in 1987. Apart from this, the Defense Acquisition Council also approved for the production of 18 Dhanush artillery guns and many other defense deals.
The supply period of the weapons has also been shortened by the DAC, but the exact period is unknown. The response from the Indian government will be sent to the US soon, and the process for the initial payment is rumored to start within a couple of months.
The Indian Defense Ministry wants to supply this heavy artillery to the mountain strike corps, which consists of more than 90000 troops, and help them defend the 4000 km border shared with China. Howitzer M777 is capable of firing 10 rounds within two minutes, and is equipped with an incredible range of 30 kilometers and above. The M777 has been used in Afghanistan from 2006 and the US military ensures that these weapons offer maximum reliability. They further say that these Howitzers can also be slung under helicopters.
India, being the second largest military equipment importer, plans to manufacture more defense equipments at home. This is one of the reasons why BAE Systems will assemble a total of 120 guns in India with Mahindra Group helping in the assembling process.
The DAC mentioned that the production of Dhanush guns will solve the artillery shortage in the Indian Army, and wants manufacturers to step up, as around 2800-3200 such guns are required at present. The exact timeline regarding the delivery is unknown, but it is rumored that 6 Dhanush guns will be delivered by the end of September.