India Gets Closer To Acquiring US Ultra Light Howitzers, Will Deploy Opposite Pak And China

21 October 2016

India has progressed to the final stage of acquiring the long awaited 145 number of Ultra Light Howitzer artillery guns- to be deployed opposite Pakistan and China- from the US, with a major roadblock being cleared today.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) led by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today cleared all the variations present in India’s demands regarding the artillery gun made to the US and what the US in turn offered. “In today’s DAC meeting, all these aberrations between India’s Letters of Request and the US’s Letters of Acceptance were cleared,” said Defence Ministry sources.

"And now we can formulate the contract after sanction of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Then start the procurement of the guns between India and the US," said the sources.

All defence proposals beyond Rs 1000 crore have to be approved by the CCS. The 145 Ultra Light Howitzers are worth Rs 5070 crore, according to sources.

In the past, the army had approached the DAC to purchase the guns. Earlier this year, the DAC approved the purchase of the guns. But then the problems emerged. India had sent a Letter of Request (LOR) to the US, explaining the demand to procure the guns. The US responded with a Letter of Acceptance (LOA).

"There was a large variance in what they offered to us and what we had asked for. The LOA had certain variations as compared to the proposal approved by the DAC. Again the DAC had to be approached and requested for a decision to accept the US’s offer. Several LORs and LOAs were exchanged before today’s meeting, which cleared all this. It is a positive step," said sources.

The procurement of the Ultra Light Howitzers will greatly boost India’s artillery capabilities, as the only other equally good artillery gun with India is the Bofors.

The howitzer will be deployed on the mountainous regions opposite Pakistan and China. These areas include Jammu and Kashmir, Leh and Arunachal Pradesh.

The DAC today also sanctioned another case of purchasing 4900 Tadiran radio sets for T-90 and T-72 tanks, said sources. These tanks are located along the border with Pakistan and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

"The existing deficiency of these sets in the army is being made up by going for this repeat order. A special sanction was given by the DAC for this order," said sources, adding that these radio sets will be acquired faster, as they are a repeat order.

1) The M777 Howitzer is used by the United States Marine Corps.

2) It was used by the US in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

3) It is manufactured by BAE Systems' Global Combat Systems division.

4) It can be transported by trucks and helicopters.

5) It provides accurate fire up to a range of 40 kms.

6) It is also used by Australia and Canada.


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