US to supply M777A2 howitzers to Indian Army
The US Department of Defense has agreed to supply M777A2 howitzers to the Indian Government under a $737m foreign military sale programme.
The deal covers the supply of 145 M777A2 howitzers and associated engineering support.
India is the third US ally to purchase M777A2 howitzers, after Australia and Canada.
Program Executive Officer (PEO) Ammunition official Jim Shields said: "We're looking forward to what we believe is the beginning of a great, and potentially long-term, relationship with the Indian Government and their army.
"While many of the contract details are still being negotiated, PEO Ammunition will continue to work closely with the Indian Government to ensure smooth execution of the case.”
The ultra lightweight field howitzer was designed to replace the existing inventory of M198 155mm towed howitzers.
Equipped with a 39-calibre barrel, the howitzer has a maximum firing range of 24.7km with unassisted rounds and 30km with rocket-assisted rounds.
Said to be the world's first howitzer to weigh less than 10,000lb, the M777A2 can be easily airlifted by a helicopter in hilly terrain, such as the Himalayas in India.
A contract for the supply of howitzers is expected to be awarded to BAE Systems by the end of 2016.
The Indian Army will also procure spare parts for five years as part of the potential contract.
The Joint Project Manager Towed Artillery Systems will manage ten additional contracts for government-furnished equipment required by the howitzer.
Additionally, PEO Ammunition and BAE Systems will provide technical manuals, training programmes and engineering support to develop firing tables for the Indian Army.
Image: US Marines ram a satellite-guided Excalibur XM982 Precision Engagement Projectile from an M777 howitzer during a fire mission. Photo: courtesy of Official US Marine Corps photo by Sgt Earnest J. Barnes / Released.