- The Army will resume the trials of the U.S.-made M777 Ultra-Light Howitzer (ULH) in Pokhran firing range.
- The trials were suspended last September after barrel of a gun burst during firing.
- India and the US had started the discussion on the purchase of 145 M777 in 2010 and after rigorous negotiations the deal was finalized in November 2016.
- In November 2016, India signed a deal with the U.S. government under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme for 145 M777 guns at a cost of $737 million.
- Following this, two guns were delivered for calibration and making range tables with local ammunition when the barrel burst occurred.
- The trials have been suspended since.
- All the M777 under the contract were to be delivered to India by 2021.
About the M777 gun
- The M777 is a 155 mm, 39-calibre towed artillery gun made of titanium and aluminium alloys and weigh just four tonnes, making it transportable under slung by helicopters.
- Under the contract, 25 guns were be inducted into Indian Army directly and the rest 120 guns were to be assembled at BAE Systems AIT facility in Maharashtra in partnership with Indian company Mahindra Group.
- Deliveries are slated to commence in March 2019.
India’s aim of purchasing M777
- M777 guns will be part of Mountain Strike Corps- 90000 armed Special Forces meant to guard approximately 3700-kilometer border with China.
- These specially trained forces will be raised by 2021.
- Panagarh will be the base station for mountain strike corps where India has positioned its six C-130J to improve the mobility of armed forces on the border with China.
- M777 can easily be transported by US-made C-130J and C-17 heavy lift military aircraft.
- The primary aim will be to quickly deploy the guns in India’s mountainous terrain.