India is set to finalize a $660 million contract for the purchase of 100 mobile heavy artillery weapons offered by L&T.
The deal, expected to be approved in a Cabinet decision in the coming days after extended commercial price negotiations, is a big win for Larsen & Toubro Ltd., a major Indian infrastructure and engineering company which partnered with South Korea's Hanwha Techwin to modify the howitzer for local conditions, Bloomberg Reported Wednesday.
It's part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's $250 billion push to modernize the armed forces and overcome a 30-year lapse in its firepower procurement program, as India prepares to counter potential threats from Pakistan and China.
An Indian army officer, who did not wish to be named as the matter is yet to go public, said the purchase contract for the 100 guns is pending final clearance and will soon go to the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval. This will be the third major gun purchase for the year after a $737-million deal with the US for buying 145 155-mm 42-caliber M777 guns and six locally-made 155-mm 45-caliber "Dhanush" guns being delivered by state-owned ordinance factory in July 2016.
A second person familiar with the discussions who could not be named said the deal had been approved by the Ministry of Defense and was now with the Ministry of Finance. The proposal would be sent to Cabinet for endorsement soon, they said.
India Ministry of Defense spokesman Nitin Wakankar had no comment to offer on the possibility of the deal for the 155-mm 52-caliber K9 artillery gun - modified for the army's need for a highly mobile, long-range deep fire support weapon with a higher rate of fire - being signed.
India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Nov. 18 in New Delhi that the Indian army had in mid-2016 inducted the Dhanush guns that would be tested by soldiers before more were added to the artillery regiments.
Some of these acquisitions are legacy items, Mukherjee said. The Dhanush project was started under former defense minister A. K. Antony in 2012 and the M777 howitzer deal was also under consideration earlier. "But it's true that the Modi government made it happen," he said.