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In lights of India army’s lack of combat readiness, the army is carrying out field trials on two long-range ultra-light howitzers received from the US in Pokhran.
The test-firing is primarily to determine various critical data like trajectory, speed, and frequency of fire of the M-777 A-2 ultra-light howitzers (ULH).
An army official told that the trials will continue till September for the formation of the "firing table" which is a major aspect of the overall induction process. Adding that the aim was to ensure that there was no delay in the induction of the guns, he said, “the trials have been going on smoothly and various data are being collected for the formation of the firing table.”
M-777 A-2 is a 155 mm, 39-calibre gun that can fire long-range ammunition on the battle ground. As part of the consignment, the army will receive three more guns in September 2018, followed by 5 guns each month from March 2019 till mid-2021 when the entire consignment is received.
India last received howitzers in the mid-1980s from a Swedish defence major Bofors. However, after information of the alleged payoffs in the deal broke out; the consequence of the deal severely crippled the Indian Army's procurement of artillery guns.
Last November, Indian government struck a government-to-government deal with the US for the supply of the 145 howitzers at a cost of nearly Rs. 5,000 crore. The Army received the howitzers in May as part of the 145 guns order.
While 25 guns will come in a fly-away condition, the rest will be assembled in India by the BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence.
Most of these guns are expected to be deployed along the Indo-China border.
Considering the current regional scenarios, the Army is in desperate need of these howitzers. This move is aimed at filling the "voids" in the Army's combat readiness, that was brought to light in the ongoing Indo-China stand-off over disputed land of Doklam, in the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction.