US Bags Long-Pending Indian Artillery Deal, Eyes More Share
In a face saver for the outgoing US Administration, India has agreed to sign a deal for artillery guns. Over the past one year, it has been Russia that has scored big with India by signing several defence and nuclear power contracts.
New Delhi (Sputnik) – The US has been encouraged by India's assurance to quickly consummate a long-discussed contract for light artillery guns and is now eyeing a greater share of India's planned 25 billion dollar worth of military purchase in the next few years.
India's current artillery guns are of the late 80s vintage. Successive governments have hesitated from inking another deal because the purchase at that time had led to bribery allegations, contributing to the downfall of the Rajiv Gandhi government.
The decision on the $ 737 million contract comes as a big relief to the US as India had recently signed major defence and nuclear power contracts with Russia.
"India and the US signed a landmark deal for 145 M777 howitzer artillery guns. The Indian industry will partner with the US defense subsidiary of BAE Systems to locally assemble, integrate and test the howitzers, supporting PM Modi's Make-in-India campaign. This deal marks a major step forward in the US-India defense relationship and supports jobs in both our countries," says Richard Verma, US envoy in New Delhi.
Mahindra Defence & Aerospace is expected to capture a major share of the Make-in-India component. Earlier this year BAE systems had announced the selection of this Indian company for discharge of offsets. Out of 145 howitzers, 25 will be purchased in ready-to-use form and the rest assembled in India. India expects to receive at least two M777 light howitzers in next few months.
The final contract under a direct government-to-government deal is expected to sign within a week and will be a face safer for outgoing US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Recently India finalized a proposal to locally make Kamov helicopters, purchased three destroyers and gave the go ahead for two more nuclear power plants.
However, the deal for artillery guns will for the first-time provide synergy between US equipment being used by Indian armed forces. The light howitzer guns of US origin will be transported by US-made C-130J and C-17 heavy lift military aircraft of the Indian Air Force. The primary aim will be to quickly deploy the guns in India's mountainous terrain.
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