The Indian army is eyeing to purchase Excalibur guided long-range artillery ammunition that is compatible with the new M-777 Howitzers it purchased from the US three years ago.
"The Indian Army is planning to acquire the Excalibur artillery ammunition from the Americans under the emergency procurement procedures," government sources were quoted as saying by ANI.
The Excalibur precision-guided projectile is co-developed by Raytheon Company and BAE Systems Bofors. It is a GPS and inertial-guided munition capable of being used in close support situations within 75–150 metres of friendly troops or in situations where targets might be prohibitively close to civilians to attack with conventional unguided artillery fire.
The shells have a multi-function fuze that can be programmed to explode in the air, once it hits a hard surface, or after it penetrates inside a target.
India signed a $750 million contract with the US in November 2016 for the procurement of 145 155 mm, 39-calibre M-777 howitzer guns. In July 2018, the army resumed testing 4 M-777 ULHs after a year-long delay, following the explosion of the gun’s barrel while it was firing the ammunition in Pokhran. A preliminary inquiry found that the explosion took place due to faulty ammunition supplied by India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and further probe was ordered.
The first batch of M777 howitzer guns was inducted into the Indian Army in November last year after extensive field trials.
According to the report, the army has just begun inducting the howitzers. Induction was expected to commence from March 2019 onwards with five guns per month till the complete consignment is received by mid-2021.
Under the contract, 25 guns would be delivered to India in a fly-away condition (two per month), while 120 was expected to be assembled at the assembly, integration and test (AIT) facility for the weapon system in India, in partnership with Mahindra Defence, located in Faridabad.
New Delhi has also green signalled the purchase of the Spike anti-tank guided missiles which can be used against the enemy armoured columns.