Months From Deal, Bomb Drops On Indian M777 Bid

It was this deal that Indian Army chief General VK Singh was referring to when, in January, he assured the press that the Army would conclude a contract for new artillery guns before the year was out. It is this deal, like every other Indian artillery acquisition effort, that now sits under a dark cloud just months away from FMS contract signature between the Indian Ministry of Defence and the Pengaton. A newspaper report today scooped a letter sent to the Indian Army Headquarters, warning that the deal was tainted, the gun had failed field evaluation trials, and that the Army chief continued to process the acquisition at peril to his reputation.

Apparently, stapled to the anonymous letter were five xeroxed pages from the Indian Army's classified field evaluation trial report, which purportedly revealed that the M777 had failed to meet certain critical performance requirements. This being a non-competitive, single-vendor, government-to-government deal, the field trials are perceived to be a formality -- indeed the Army has in the past gotten the government to officially provide waivers on deviations (permitted in official procedures) to allow the contract through.

Other facets that have been called into question in anonymous notes to the Army include the very requirement for ULHs, the allegedly fabricated definition of "inaccessible areas" which provided the basis of the requirement, the muting of altitude performance requirements and transportation requirements. As with every artillery bid, there are massive vested interests at play. Will this one flare up too?

Photo by Tech. Sgt. William Greer / US Air Force

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