India-US sign Rs 5K cr deal for 145 M777 howitzers
New Delhi: India and the United States on Wednesday signed an around Rs 5,000 crore deal of 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers.
This is the first defence deal between the two countries after the Bofors scandal that took place in 1980s. It has been informed that the howitzers would be installed near the borders with China.
According to the sources, "India signed the Letter of Acceptance for the contract with the US, which formalises the deal between the two countries for these guns."
The deal, which would cost around Rs 5,000 crore to India, was recently cleared by the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS).
The signing of the contract took place at the two-day meeting of the 15th India-US Military Cooperation Group (MCG), which began here on Wednesday.
India-US MCG is a forum which has been set up to grow Defence Cooperation between HQ Integrated Defence Staff and US Pacific Command at the strategic and operational levels.
The meeting was co-chaired by US Co-Chair Lt Gen David H Berger, Commander US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Lt Gen Satish Dua, CISC, HQ IDS and Air Marshal AS Bhonsle DCIDS (Operations), HQ IDS.
The bilateral event has been joined by a 260-member delegation from the US Defence Forces and many officers from the three Services HQ and HQ IDS on behalf of India.
The sources revealed that India had earlier conveyed a Letter of Request to the US government willing to buy M777 to deploy them at high-altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, which share borders with China.
The US soon sent a Letter of Acceptance in reply and the Defence Ministry, after thoroughly going through the terms and conditions of the deal, gave it a green signal.
BAE Systems is the manufacturer of the gun and it would invest around USD 200 million.
Initially, 25 guns will come to India in a fly-away condition, while the rest would be assembled at the proposed Assembly Integration and Test facility for the weapon system in India in association with Mahindra.
India would receive the first two howitzers within two months from the date of signing the deal while the rest would arrive here at the rate of two per month.
It is to tell you that these howitzers, which can be heli-lifted, were first proposed to be bought directly from BAE around 10 years earlier.