BAE Systems gave India option for local production of the M777 155mm howitzer

Defence & Security Industry News - BAE Systems
BAE Systems gave India option for local production of the M777 155mm howitzer
BAE Systems Plc has given India the option of making howitzers locally to help conclude a deal that would equip an army strike force patrolling the Chinese border with the weapons, reports today Bloomberg Business Week.
Talks are under way with India’s Defense Ministry to finalize the proposal for local assembly and testing of M777 artillery, according to John Kelly, a vice president at U.S. unit BAE Systems Land & Armaments Inc. While the army is seeking to buy 145 howitzers for the planned mountain strike corps, Kelly said it may require as many as 450.

If the quantity is higher, then we have more opportunity for indigenisation and that’s what we are working through at the moment,” he said in an interview in New Delhi two days ago. “What we see is to bring the crown jewel of the manufacturing process into India. It’s very much in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ push.

An initial offer by BAE Systems to sell the 145 guns to India for $697 million stalled in October 2013. Kelly said the price now could be about 6 percent to 8 percent higher. The London-based company is also interested in India’s Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles project, he said.

U.S., Canadian and Australian orders for M777s total more than 1,000, and the weapon is designed to be highly mobile on land and sea and in the air, according to BAE System’s website.

Modi has prioritized military modernization amid border disputes with China and Pakistan and rising Chinese naval power.

The administration introduced the “Make in India” drive in September to lure investment and revive economic growth, with the aim of boosting manufacturing’s share of India’s $1.9 trillion gross domestic product to 25 percent from about 15 percent currently.

The Modi government has taken on a very, very ambitious agenda,” Kelly said. “Actions are taken quicker, decisions are made quicker. We’re prepared to lean forward, we’re prepared to invest.

The M-777 is an Ultralightweight Field Howitzer which is in service with the U.S. Army since 2000. The M777 has been developed by BAE Systems Land Systems (RO Defence, formerly the Armaments Group of Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd) at Barrow-in-Furness.

The latest version M777A2 can fire fire the Raytheon / Bofors XM982 Excalibur GPS / Inertial Navigation-guided extended-range 155mm projectiles using the Modular Artillery Charge Systems (MACS). Excalibur has a maximum range of 40km and accuracy of 10m.

The M777 has a total weight of 3,745 kg and and can be transported by helicopter, transporter aircraft and ship. It can be also towed by 4x4 light tactical vehicle greater than 2.5t.

(Source: Bloomberg)