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India inks M777 lightweight howitzer purchase
September 21, 2019
The BAE Systems M777. Photo credit: BAE

India inks M777 lightweight howitzer purchase

The Government of India has inked a $750 million U.S. purchase for 145 BAE Systems M777 lightweight 155 mm 39-calibre towed howitzers from the U.S.

The Indian Ministry of Defence’s Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) approved the purchase in June, which was sought for the Indian Army’s forthcoming ‘Mountain Strike Corps’, a new land forces entity to specially address the Chinese threat along India’s Northern Front.

Under the contract with BAE Systems, 120 of the 145 M777s will be assembled in India by Mahinda Group at its Mahindra Assembly, Integration, and Testing facility at New Delhi.

The offset value of the purchase is set at $200 million U.S.

Notes & Comments:

Weighing 4,200 kg, the M777 will provide the Indian Army with an effective artillery piece, one that it can easily transport by air via the CH-47 Chinook and Mi-17. Easy utilization and mobility in poorly accessible combat environments are among the M777’s marquee attributes, and the advantages conferred to India via the M777 will not go unnoticed in China and Pakistan.

For its part, China has developed an analogous solution to the M777 in the NORINCO AH-4, a 4,500 kg 155 mm 39-calibre howitzer. Pakistan is in the process of procuring new artillery, namely truck-mounted 155 mm guns, but with the availability of the NORINCO AH-4, Pakistan could broaden its search to lightweight guns considering how mountainous regions figure in both its external and internal security interests.

Denel Land Systems is also seeking a partner to complete the development of its G7 105 mm 52-calibre Lightweight Experimental Ordnance (LEO) gun. Although the G7 will use 105 mm shells, defenceWeb noted that the G7’s underlying LEO platform has the “logistics footprint of a 105 mm howitzer but the range and terminal performance of a 155 mm system.” The platform’s weight could even be reduced to less than 3,000 kg, thus broadening its transportability options.