The ministry of defence is expected to seek the Defence Acquisition Council’s (DAC) permission for fresh letter of acceptance (LoA) from US-based BAE Systems for 145 M-777 ultralight howitzers (ULH), since the extended offer had expired mid-October in 2013.
A sources told FE: “At the DAC meeting scheduled for May 11, the M-777 guns from BAE Systems’ US arm will be on the agenda.”
Due to delays from New Delhi to finalise the deal of buying the M-777 guns through foreign military sales (FMS) route from the US, the company has been gradually shutting down its facilities in the Barrow-on-Furness, UK, and work at the US facility too has been suspended. The UK facility produces core components like titanium forgings and fabrications, which make the M-777 light enough to be lifted by helicopters to high-altitude deployment areas and it is finally assembled at BAE Systems’ Hattiesburg facility in the US. For that reason, India has pursued this procurement through the US department of defence (Pentagon) under the FMS programme. This means that India buys the gun from the Pentagon, which negotiates terms with BAE Systems.
“We are looking at the future. Though the facility is suspended in Hattiesburg, the IPR is owned by the UK.
Therefore we are looking forward to closing the deal with New Delhi,” Bob Preedy, head of Artillery Business Development, L&A Weapons System, told FE.
Dean McCumiskey, who heads BAE Systems in India, said: “BAE Systems stands ready to continue to support any discussions between the two governments to bring this case to conclusion, and remains committed to equip the Indian Army with next generation technology to meet their urgent operational requirements.”
The company in an effort to resurrect the dead deal had earlier this year offered to build more components in India for the 155-mm/39-calibre M-777 ULH. And offered the transfer of the assembly, integration & test capabilities into India.