The Indian Army’s M777A2 programme has achieved an early milestone with the arrival of two howitzers from the US, in preparation for live fire testing.
The tests will enable engineers to create firing tables compatible with Indian ammunition.
Under the $737m foreign military sale programme signed in December 2016, India will receive 145 M777A2s in total, with delivery expected to begin in late 2018.
As the prime contractor for the sale of M777A2s, BAE Systems UK will manage the firing table project.
Program Executive Officer (PEO) Ammunition Jim Shields said: "The successful build, shipping and clearance of the howitzers for shipment to India reflect the close engagement of the US DoD, the India Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems that will make this partnership successful.”
The howitzer components and subassemblies will be manufactured in the US and UK, and then shipped to India for assembly at the final assembly integration, test (AIT) facility.
The cannon assembly will be manufactured at US Army Watervliet Arsenal, New York, and provided as government furnished equipment (GFE).
US-based contractors Seiler Manufacturing and Triumph Actuation Systems are also supplying GFE for the M777A2 India programme.
PEO Ammunition and BAE Systems will also provide technical manuals, training programmes, and engineering support for the firing tables.
The lightweight M777A2 can be easily airlifted by helicopter in mountainous environments, such as the Himalayas in India.
It is the world's first 155mm howitzer to weigh less than 10,000lb, due to the use of titanium and aluminium alloys, the US Army stated.
Image: US Marines load another round into their M777 howitzer during a fire mission. Photo: courtesy of US Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Taylor W. Cooper / US Army.