BAE to make Howitzer guns in Faridabad with Mahindra

NAYANIMA BASU New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2018

US Army soldiers from 2nd Platoon, B battery 2-8 field artillery, fire a howitzer artillery piece at Seprwan Ghar forward fire base in Panjwai district, Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (AFGHANISTAN)

Marks first ‘transfer of capability’ to private sector

British aerospace major BAE Systems will begin manufacturing its iconic ultra-light Howitzer battlefield guns from its soon-to-be-operational facility in Faridabad, a joint venture with Mahindra Defence.

“Earlier this year, we announced the down selection of Mahindra as our supplier for the Assembly, Integration & Test (AIT) capability for the M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer. It would not be appropriate to provide further details at this time while the government-to-government sale is still pending,” said Joe Senftle, Vice-President and General Manager (Weapon Systems), BAE Systems Inc.

The company also said production and delivery of the guns would depend on when the US and Indian governments close all formalities regarding the deal.

“Work will begin almost immediately upon implementation of the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) and the subsequent US government contract’s award to BAE Systems. The delivery will commence around six months after the Indian government accepts the first two guns,” Senftle said.

On June 25, the Defence Acquisition Council, under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, granted its approval for the purchase of 145 pieces of the Howitzer guns for $750 million from the US. This is the first such procurement of field guns by the Indian Army since the $1.4 billion Bofors deal.

The M777 155mm/45-calibre towed guns manufactured by the BAE Systems will be required to be purchased through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. Under this, the US government seals the LoA for submission to the Indian authorities and thereafter the deal is inked.

The guns will be procured under this deal with the commitment of assembly, integration and testing here in India under the offset policy. Therefore, the government will purchase only 25 guns; the remaining 120 will be manufactured in collaboration with Mahindra.

“This arrangement involves the Transfer of Capability to the AIT facility in India, which will be the first ever transfer of this capability to the Indian private sector. This is a fundamental part of the M777 production line, and the only AIT facility for the M777 outside of the UK,” he said.

The 145 gun-pack delivery will be done by the Ordnance Factory Board in order to save the cost of transportation, said another official of the Defence Ministry.

Published on July 01, 2016

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