BAE Systems M777 155mm/39mm Calibre Lightweight Howitzer

by Sushant Singh

In what is likely to be the first major ‘Make in India’ project in defence, the defence ministry is about to sign a deal with the US government to assemble 145 BAE Systems M777 155mm/39mm calibre lightweight howitzers in India.

Estimated to be worth $700 million, the deal is being done through the Foreign Military Sales route and a draft Letter of Acceptance (LoA) has been agreed upon between the Pentagon and the defence ministry.

The ministry had given BAE Systems, the manufacturer of M777 artillery guns, till October 31 to submit its offset agreements with local companies. This includes the Indian company to whom BAE Systems will transfer its M777 assembly, integration and test (AIT) facilities from Hattiesburg, Mississippi (US).

BAE Systems has entered into MoUs with over 40 Indian companies to fulfill the offset requirement, which are 30 per cent of the contract value. The Indian partner for the AIT facilities, where 70 per cent of M777 gun’s assembly will be completed, is yet to be announced.

“Several companies have the capabilities to perform such work and BAE Systems is evaluating proposals. Establishing an AIT facility in India will lay a foundation to expand future work content in India, potentially leading to M777s for India and for possible export,” Mark Simpkins, Vice-President & General Manager-India, BAE Systems, told The Indian Express.

The LoA is expected to be inked later this year, nearly eight years after the M777 purchase was mooted during the UPA-1 regime. The Army hopes to get the first guns within six months of the signing of the LOA, so it can work out the Range Table Development and start training the artillery units.