After being blocked for years, the M777 howitzer guns deal, may finally see the light of the day, with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) reportedly giving its nod. According to a report in ToI, the CCS, led by PM Narendra Modi, has given the green signal for acquisition of 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers for the Indian Army. The deal will be a government-to-government one with the US, and is likely to be for around Rs 5,000 crore. The deal is said to have a 30% offset clause, and is expected to be signed in the coming weeks.
The M777 howitzer gun is manufactured by BAE Systems. Out of the 145 guns for India, 120 will be “assembled, integrated and tested” in India. BAE is tieing up with Mahindra for this purpose. BAE Systems claims that the M777 howitzer is a “highly portable” in the defence arsenal of any country. The gun is portable by land, sea and air. This means that the system can be easily moved and re-deployed as per the defence forces need. The gun has a maximum unassisted range of 24.7 km and an assisted range of 30 plus km. BAE claims that the gun can be used to fire 5 rounds per minute for up to 2 minutes. It can easily be lifted by helicopters like the Chinook, which India has already ordered from Boeing.
The gun is likely to add in a big way to the Indian Army’s firepower, especially in the Eastern sector. This implies that with the M777, India will get formidable capability against China. India has been moving to aggressively ramp up its defence prepardness in the Eastern region, a move that has also raised eyebrows in China. Recently, an Indian Air Force (IAF) C-17 Globemaster aircraft landed at the ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) in Arunachal Pradesh’s Mechuka. Arunachal Pradesh has several ALGs at varying altitudes, each one of them stragic assets. In August this year, IAF inaugurated the upgraded Pasighat Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh by landing a Sukhoi-30 MKI.
Recently India placed an order for four more Boeing P-8I (Poseidons) long-range surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. P-8Is are often called the “hawk eyes” of the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean region. India will start getting these P-8Is by 2020. India is also looking to develop a new BrahMos missile with a significantly longer range, than its current 290 km. A greater range for BrahMos would imply that India’s power to strike would get an unprecedented fillip, especially against China.