India to buy artillery guns for first time in 27 years

Other News Materials 11 May 2012 18:48 (UTC +04:00)

India's Defence Ministry on Friday cleared a 30-billion rupee (560 million-dollar) proposal to buy 145 ultralight howitzer guns from the United States, dpa reported.

It is the first time the Indian army is to buy artillery guns in 27 years, after allegations of kickbacks in a 1.3-billion-dollar Bofors guns deal snowballed into a huge political controversy in the late 1980s.

"The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister AK Antony has cleared the deal for the M777 BAE Systems guns," a Defence Ministry spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

The M777 is half the weight of 155mm howitzers and can be transported by helicopter. The weapon can fire up to five rounds a minute and has been deployed by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The purchase comes shortly after army chief General VK Singh wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh highlighting the gaps in India's defence and warning that the country's security was at risk.

The guns are likely to be deployed in high-altitude, mountainous areas along the India-China border, media reports said.