The Indian Army has received its first M777A2 Ultra Lightweight Howitzers (ULH) at an official handover ceremony, which are expected to deploy to its first regiment in 2019. The gun systems, manufactured by BAE Systems, were accepted earlier this year as part of a 145-gun agreement between the US and Indian governments.

BAE is building and delivering the first 25 M777 ULHs fully assembled, with the remaining 120 to be assembled in India.

“The Indian Army is receiving an extremely reliable and battle-proven artillery platform,” Joe Senftle, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems’ weapon systems business, said.

“The M777 brings a new level of capability to the artillery unit by offering rapid deployment and extreme accuracy. It can operate in areas that are difficult to access and is also very easy to maintain.”

At nearly four tonnes lighter than its predecessor M198, the M777 is much more manoeuvrable cannon weapon that is moved around by seven-tonne trucks. The M777s are even able to be lifted externally by air units such as the MV-22 Opsrey and CH-47 Chinook.

"The M777 ULH is more than a very effective piece of artillery technology," said Nik Khanna, managing director India, BAE Systems.

"With the M777 program, BAE Systems has made the first step of our substantive make-in-India commitment, which includes our pledge to develop a network of Indian suppliers for our global supply chain and deepen our relationship with industry in India."

The ULHs that will be assembled in India are being done so by Mahindra Defence Systems (MDSL) under an arrangement "designed to support defence industrial co-operation and promote local economic growth."

The US government recently gave MDSL the all clear to carry out assembly at a purpose-built facility, and the team finalised these newly-handed over weapons by replicating the proven manufacturing processes to the highest of quality specifications, including modifications specifically tailored for the Indian artillery, such as a unique camouflage paint scheme.

BAE Systems is an international defence, aerospace and security company that delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services.