BAE Systems has taken a lead in India’s defence industry with 120 of M777 guns to be assembled, integrated and tested in partnership with the country’s leading group Mahindra Defence, Dave Armstrong, the Group Business Development Director, said underlining commitment to the market.

“In our total relationship across the M777, we have over 60 business involved with over 50% in the SMEs,” said Armstrong, of the 145-gun order with the Indian Defence Ministry, 25 of which have been delivered.

Speaking at the MoU signing between Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers and UK India Business Council at the DefExpo 2020 held in Lucknow 5-8 Feb 2020, Armstrong highlighted BAE Systems’ 40 years of commitment to India.

“Ninety-nine of the 123 Hawks delivered to the Indian Air Force were assembled, integrated and tested by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in India,” he pointed out.

Partnering with India and doing industrial cooperation is not new to BAE Systems, he said of partnership with HAL, a part of the Indian Defence Public Sector Undertakings that are leading the development of indigenous industry along with foreign expertise.

“Our partnership extends across all the major players in the industry. We have great relationship with Mahindra and Tata to name a few,” highlighted Armstrong.

Going forward, BAE Systems has selected Lucknow-based PTC Industries Ltd, or Precision Technology Casting, to work in India since 2018.

“In that way BAE Systems is prepared to invest in PTC that we see something which is enduring,” he said of his group’s commitment to the manufacturer of titanium products right in the Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor, one of the corridors for building defence industry. The other is Tamil Nadu Defence Corridor.

“We identify PTC having the core capability to provide the titanium skill that we need to make the lightweight howitzer.

“We have invested a lot of our time to up the edge of a little percentage of performance so that they can deliver the quality that is needed for the capability of the equipment that is required to make howitzer,” said Armstrong.

He also underlined how BAE Systems have help PTC build capability and be a global player serving other manufacturers in the aerospace and defence sectors.

BAE Systems legacy in India started 40 years ago with investment in local manufacturing and was part of the first Jaguar (defence) programme.

“We were among the first international companies to make direct investment in the local manufacturing.”

Having seen the development of Indian industry from early days, Armstrong calls on both the Government and industry to think differently to take the business forward for the greater benefit of all.

He stressed on the need to revisit the present defence procurement procedures.

“We propose a broader approach beyond this transactional approach to look at more enduring national capability which gives us the sustainability for the investment that was made during the offset period to be more enduring.

“We believe this would be greater not just for the Indian Ministry of Defence but also embrace investments for the long-term benefits to India,” said the veteran of global defence industry.

Product Highlights

This is M777 products has fired over a million rounds in testing capabilities and active services. The purchase contract was signed by the Indian Army in 2016 and the delivery will be completed by June 2021, according to Paul West, the Indian Campaign Director at BAE Systems.

BAE Systems is also expected to sign a Letter of Intent with India on the supply of Mark 45, a five-inch naval gun for the 15 Bravo and 17-Alfa Classic ships of the Indian Navy.

BAE Systems and India’s Kalyani Industries Ltd are jointly competing to supply a 40mm naval gun, formerly L70, to the Indian Air Force.

A Request for Proposal is expected in the coming months for supply of 550-L70 guns, said West.

The Gun

With more than 1,090 M777s in service globally, the M777 is the only battle-proven 155mm Ultra Lightweight Howitzer providing a rapid reaction that delivers firepower under sustained combat conditions. The M777 will remain at the forefront of artillery technology well into the future through the use of technical insertions, long-range precision guided munition developments and flexible mobility options.

BAE Systems has selected Mahindra as its business partner for an in-country Assembly, Integration & Test (AIT) facility for the M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer. The facility will become a fundamental part of the M777 production line and enable the Indian Army to access maintenance, spares and support for the M777 locally.

As part of this procurement, BAE Systems will make an offset investment of more than $200 million in Indian defence suppliers, providing them access to the BAE Systems group across its Air, Land, Sea and Security programmes.

BAE Systems