Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 12 September 2017
One of the two acquired artillery Gun M-777 Howitzer met with an accident in Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan. According to preliminary information from Indian Army sources, no one is injured in the accident. Indian Army in May this year got two 155 mm Howitzer M-777 artillery guns delivered under Foreign Military Sales route from US. The much hyped delivery first time ever 30 years after Bofors Scandal raised lot of hope in defence preparedness particularly against China as most of these 145 long range guns are supposed to be deployed along the border with China.
The mishap occurred on 02 September when during the firing the projectile which was fifth of the series; exited the barrel in multiple pieces, causing the accident. Sources say the US manufactured gun was firing Indian ammunition. The barrel of the gun has been damaged, extent of which is being assessed by Joint Investigation Team. The 30 Km range gun is manufactured by BAE Systems. Joint Investigation Team is on the Site.
The field firing is aimed at compilation of firing tables. Further firing for compilation of FT (firing table) shall recommence on analysis of the Joint Investigation Team. According to Indian Army sources, this is merely an interim input. Detailed input by OEM shall follow.
Defence Acquisition Council led by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar cleared the progress to purchase the M-777 gun first 25th June and finally in October last year. The deal worth 5000 Crores rupees was signed between India and US on 30th November last year. While 25 guns will come to India in a fly away condition, the rest will be assembled at the proposed Assembly Integration and Test facility for the weapon system in India in partnership with Mahindra. Three more guns were expected to be delivered this month itself. The guns were likely to be induced by 2019 in Indian Army.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.