Guns At Last: Indian Army Is Finally Getting New Artillery Guns It Desperately Needs – Swarajya

Snapshot

With over thee different type of guns ordered and indigenous initiatives taken up, India seems well on its way to plug the critical gaps in the Army’s firepower.

The Indian Army on Thursday received the first two of the 145 M777 Ultra-Light Howitzers (ULH) ordered from the United States, the first batch of new artillery units that the country has bought after it imported Bofors guns from Sweden starting 1986. The delivery of these guns, first addition to the Indian artillery strength in over 30 years, brings an end to what is termed as the ‘Bofors jinx’.

Manufactured by BAE Systems, the guns were bought by India in a $737 million deal inked in November 2016. Of the 145 guns sold to India under the Foreign Military Sales programme of the US government, 25 will be imported and the remaining assembled in India in partnership with the Mahindra group.

The purchase of these guns was a part of the Army’s wider strategy, drawn in the Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan of 1999, aimed at acquisition of 3,000 modern artillery systems of various types, to equip its 220 artillery regiments by 2027.

Over a decade and a half later, the plan has finally begun to materialise. But what delayed the acquisition of new artillery guns for over 30 years?

In 1986, the Congress government under Rajiv Gandhi signed a $285 million deal with Swedish arms company Bofors for supply of 410 155mm Howitzer field guns. About a year later, a report by the Swedish Radio claimed that Bofors had paid kickbacks to officials and politicians in India to make sure that the deal went through. The scandal brought down the Congress government of the time and derailed acquisition plans for decades to

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