Finally, Indian Army gets new guns

32 years after the Bofors scandal broke, that put a stop to all artillery inductions, the Indian Army today finally received the three BAE Systems M7777A2 ultra-light howitzers and ten K9 Vajra tracked self-propelled howitzer guns at Deolali, Maharashtra.

The new artillery housing the new guns will be raised next year and the handover is part of Army’s modernisation programme.

In a boost to the Army’s firepower and capability enhancement, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today inducted these three major artillery gun systems, besides a `Composite Gun Towing Vehicle’.

Speaking at the induction ceremony, held at Deolali Field Firing Ranges, the minister said many more such systems would be inducted in the Army in the next few years. “These guns are being inducted almost 30 years after the Bofors guns were inducted,” she added.

Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre, Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat and former Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor were present. The 155mm, 39 calibre Ultra light Howitzers have been procured from USA under Government to Government Foreign Military Sales and will be assembled in India by BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence.

Several attempts to test and buy new artillery fell since Bofors, the country’s most well-known arms scandal which led to the ousting of former PM Rajiv Gandhi. One person who was singled out for credit was former Defence Minister Parrikar.

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