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India all set for artillery purchases

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The M777 is the world's first 155mm Howitzer weighing less than 10000 lbs (4218 kg).

NEW DELHI (PTI): Remaining without a single purchase of artillery guns since Bofors scandal broke out two decades ago, India has lined up series of procurements of such weapons to bridge the growing gap in the operational preparedness of its Army.

Among the guns it plans to buy soon include towed, wheeled self-propelled, tracked self-propelled and ultra light howitzers.

Defence Ministry sources on Friday said these acquisitions are at various stages of procurement and these guns would strengthen the artillery arm of the 1.13 million strong Army.

While it has scheduled trials for two such weapons in the coming months, the Defence Ministry has ramped up its bid to procure 145 ultra light howitzers for deploying in mountainous terrains from the US.

The Obama Administration has notified the US Congress of its intention to sell the howitzers through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.

The FMS sales to India comes at a time when the country is planning to schedule a trial of Singapore's ST Kinetics 'Pegasus' gun in the next couple of months.

Though the trials, on a 'no cost-no commitment' basis, was to happen last year, it got shelved after the Defence Ministry blacklisted ST Kinetics along with six other companies after the CBI named them in the corruption case against former Ordnance Board chief Sudipto Ghosh.

But the Defence Ministry is changing its policy to allow the trial, but not to award the contract before the CBI case was complete, provided an opportunity to the Army to complete testing the gun and await the outcome of the corruption case against Ghosh.

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