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India to Get U.S. Howitzers

The U.S. Department of Defense has notified the Congress of a possible sale of 145 state-of-the-art 155mm towed Howitzers to India.

The estimated cost of the deal is $885 million, which also includes providing associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) says.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-India strategic relationship and to improve the security of an important partner which continues to be a for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia,” it says.

The Indian government had requested a possible sale of 145 M777 155mm Light-Weight Towed Howitzers with 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.

The Indian army has not bought modern artillery since the 1980s, when a bribery scandal erupted involving Swedish armament firm Bofors. The company was accused of paying kickbacks to secure the gun deal, resulting in the ouster of then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi from office in 1989.

Since then, the army has not been able to induct even a single piece of new artillery.

The Indian army has been eying a $4 billion modernization plan, including 400 towed-howitzers, 180 self-propelled ones and 145 ultralight versions, through intergovernmental deals and global tenders.

“India intends to use the howitzers to modernize its armed forces and enhance its ability to operate in hazardous conditions. India will have no difficulty absorbing these weapons into its armed forces,” DSCA says.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region, it asserts.

The principal contractors will be BAE of Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Watervliet Arsenal of Watervliet, New York; Seiler Instrument Company of St Louis, Missouri; Triumph Actuation Systems of Bloomfield, Connecticut; Taylor Devices of North Tonawanda, New York; Hutchinson Industries of Trenton, New Jersey; and Selex, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

“In accordance with the Indian Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP), it is anticipated that the vendor will be required to negotiate an offset contract with the government of India,” the agency says.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require annual trips to India involving up to eight U.S. government and contractor representatives for technical reviews/support, training, and in-country trials for a period of approximately two years.

“There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale,” DSCA adds.

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