Wednesday, November 14, 2012

India All Set For First Howitzer Buy Since Bofors

US ARMY PHOTO /  CPT. ANGELA CHIPMAN
This is history. Except I still don't want to say it until there's a contract award. The US Government has been sent a formal Letter of Request by the Indian MoD for 145 BAE Systems M777 ultra-light howitzers, which, along with associated equipment, could be worth upwards of $650-million. The Indian MoD formally declared its interest in the system to the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency in January 2006.

Apart from the guns themselves, the deal includes "Laser Inertial Artillery Pointing Systems (LINAPS), warranty, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, U.S.Government and contractor representatives’ technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support."

It's been a typically Indian ride. In February 2008, BAE fielded an M777 for the first time at the Def Expo 2008 trade fair, a month after the Indian Army had put out its requirement for light guns. Seven months later, the company declared that the qualitative requirements (pertaining mostly to ammunition) made it impossible for the M777 to be fielded, creating a single vendor situation involving the ST Kinetics Pegasus ultra-light gun. New requirements were formulated and both guns were invited to pitch. Trials followed, and then things steadily went straight to hell.

In late 2009, allegations of financial malfeasance rocked ST Kinetics -- leading to an indefinite period of suspended animation (the company's guns were still in country for trials etc), and finally ending with the company's formal blacklist by the Indian government in March 2012. With BAE's only competitor on the road to a ban, the MoD knew that there was no competition to be had. On Republic Day (Jan 26) 2010, the Pentagon revealed to US Congress (as part of due paper process) that the Indian government wanted 145 BAE M777s as part of a direct government-to-government deal. This was quickly cleared. In Feb 2011, press reports indicated that the Army had sought concessions for the government to push through the M777 since it had failed certain firing tests. This followed a brief controversy where an anonymous letter with xeroxed copies of sections of the M777 Indian trial report, landed on Indian Defence Minister AK Antony's table, forcing an internal inquiry. That inquiry apparently found the involvement of "suspected vested interests" (surprise, surprise).

If the Indian government manages to conclude this deal -- and there's no reason why it shouldn't now -- it will be historic. The first procurement of field artillery for the Indian Army since the infamous Bofors episode. Then again, 145 artillery pieces in a blackhole that's hungry for thousands of heavier howitzers, is a bit of a lark. It's a start. 

13 comments :

Anonymous said...

OMG... Lets hope this time it goes through without any issue. Lets everybody think about the country first than to think about themselves.

Mr. RA said...

Good news for the Tibet front.

Anonymous said...

145 guns are not enough to defend india. PAKISTAN has better artillery than india.

kingoo said...

250 such ULH are needed for India.150 for China front and rest for deployment of west kashmir.

Anonymous said...

Pls can anyone tell me what happened to the competition for the selection of a replacement to the INSAS RIFLE to the Indian army.There is no information about this anywhere?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 10:05 Defend India against Pakistan? I think you got it all mixed up. Only thing Pak can do is send terrorists around the globe and bark about nukes. A pre 1971 pakistan would have been a serious concern now but thanks to their attack on India in 1971 they are now in cinders.
I am not disputing facts that Artillery is the biggest gaping hole due to failed procurements but that doesn't mean we dont have alternate means.
India made 155mm artillery is soon entering production and will fill this hole not to mention good success enjoyed in Pinaka Rocket artillery and its upgraded version.
Everytime we go in a deal something always comes up and causes delay. This is a fine stopgap measure but indigenous production is the way forward.

Anonymous said...

india did not attack Pakistand during Kagil war or Parliament attack why?.....because Pak has nukes. Thats it.

Anonymous said...

besides we all know what DRDO is capable of.

Lander said...

Indias best possible solution would be to buy these, field their own 155mm system and convert a number of their FH77 into a wheeled Archer systems to give India three types of transportation with the artillery systems.

The M777 is light and may be transported by being air-lifted by the Mi-17, Mi-26 and the future Ch-47 aswell as being towed behind trucks.

The FH77 Archer could drive itself to battle in CBRN environment with bad road/terrain conditions and doesn't require the crew to leave the vehicle. It's mine protected and has ballistic protection for the crew and the equipment. It's NATO-compatible and it can be airlifted with a C-130J/A400M or bigger transport planes. Regular FH77B can be towed behind trucks.

These 3-4 systems would create a large advantage for Indian troops fighting along the Pakistan or Chinese borders.

drrajivpathlab said...

YOU ANONYMOUS COZ U HV TO COOK STORIES FOR BEGGARS R NO CHOOSERS LET ALONE BETTER IN PAK U SHD KNOW PERVEZ MUSHARAF ACCEPTING LACK OF AMMUNATIONS TO FIGHT INDIA FOR EVEN 10 DAYS. UR U.S. AID IS SHOWN AS SPONSERS IN UR NEWS ADV. NOW TAT U GOT PAINTS DOWN IN OBL KILLING U TURN EAST TO BEG FM CHINA. HOPE UR PM IS SURE HE IS PM FOR A WEEK

drrajivpathlab said...

YOU ANONYMOUS COZ U HV TO COOK STORIES FOR BEGGARS R NO CHOOSERS LET ALONE BETTER IN PAK U SHD KNOW PERVEZ MUSHARAF ACCEPTING LACK OF AMMUNATIONS TO FIGHT INDIA FOR EVEN 10 DAYS. UR U.S. AID IS SHOWN AS SPONSERS IN UR NEWS ADV. NOW TAT U GOT PAINTS DOWN IN OBL KILLING U TURN EAST TO BEG FM CHINA. HOPE UR PM IS SURE HE IS PM FOR A WEEK

Posting your Loads said...

Thanks for giving your views.

silverlineindia said...

HAL'S Jaguar Darin III is Awesome.