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Two ultra-light howitzers arrived here today from the US, ending a three-decade wait for the Indian Army to induct long-range artillery guns after the Bofors scandal broke out in mid-1980s.
The 145 M-777 guns, manufactured by the BAE Systems, are being taken to Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan for test firing. The howitzers have a maximum strike range of 30 km.
While 25 guns will come to India in a fly-away condition, the rest will be assembled in India by the BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence. The guns, with a calibre of 155 mm, will be mostly deployed along the borders with China.
India and the US had signed a nearly Rs 5,000-crore deal for 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers on November 30 last year, breaking the Bofors jinx.
"We continue to support the US government in integrating this new weapon system with the Indian Army's artillery modernisation programme," an official of the BAE Systems said.
The howitzers that can be heli-lifted, were first proposed to be bought from BAE about 10 years back.
The Bofors scandal that had taken place during prime ministership of Rajiv Gandhi, had severely crippled the Army's modernisation programme.