India on Thursday received the first two of 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers as part of the $750 million dollar contract signed with the US in November 2016.
Under the contract, 25 guns will come to India in a fly-away condition (two per month will be delivered), while 120 will be assembled at the proposed assembly integration and test facility for the weapon system in India in partnership with Mahindra Defence, located in Faridabad.
The $750-million deal was formalised last year on the sidelines of the 15th India-US Military Cooperation Group (MCG). The proposal had met a dead end over offsets and price issues before being finalised as it also involved direct import of the howitzers from the US under the buy (global) category of the Indian Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).
The Indian Army plans to use these Howitzers in defensive troop deployment spread across the country’s vast rugged terrain. The gun will come with laser inertial artillery pointing systems (LINAPS), maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services.
The offsets, under which BAE Systems will invest about $200 million, will be pursued independently.
Mahindra Defence will be in charge of assembling, integrating and testing the guns at the AIT facility. This will enable the army to have access to spare parts and it further drastically reduces the maintenance time and cost of the guns.