India’s Defence Acquisition Council tonight cleared the procurement of M777 howitzers made by BAE Systems of the US.
A council meeting chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar approved the purchase and the start of negotiations with the US government as it will be a procurement under the Foreign Military Sales program.
International companies such as Denel, Rosoboronexport and BAE Systems had bid for a proposal to procure 814 artillery guns worth $2.5 billion in 2010. BAE Systems had won the contract to supply 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers worth $493 million.
Despite negotiations running into years, talks had broken down last year over price. “The case for procurement of ultra-light howitzer guns through the US government has not progressed due to cost issues and because the vendor has not been able to come up with a proposal fully compliant to the offset requirements,” the then-defense minister Arun Jaitleyhad told Parliament in July last year.
BAE Systems has offered to set up an assembly line with a local partner to make the guns domestically.
India has not bought artillery guns since the Bofors deal in 1986.