Parrikar likely to approve purchase of artillery guns

NEW DELHI: In what will be the first major weapon purchase aimed at bolstering the upcoming Mountain Strike Corps of the Army, the Ministry of Defence is expected to approve the purchase of 145 artillery guns specially meant for deployment in the Himalayas.

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23

In what will be the first major weapon purchase aimed at bolstering the upcoming Mountain Strike Corps of the Army, the Ministry of Defence is expected to approve the purchase of 145 artillery guns specially meant for deployment in the Himalayas.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, is scheduled to meet on Saturday to take a final call on the purchase of the 155mm M777 ultra-light howitzer (ULH). It will also decide on new warships carrying deadly missiles. It will also discuss the issue of having the ‘midget’ submarines used for special operations under the sea.

The cost negotiation with BAE Systems for the supply of 145 guns is complete and the deal is expected to be signed at price between $725 million and $740 million. This will be the main ground-based weapon for the Mountain Strike Corps. The BAE has further tied up with Mahindra to make 50 per cent of the guns in India.

BAE Systems will be asked to start deliveries within six months after signing the contract. In May last year, the DAC had approved the purchase of the ULH, which was originally proposed in 2008. Made of titanium, each gun weighs 4,000 kg, making it transportable by CH-47 Chinook helicopters, C-17 Globemaster and the C-130 Hercules aircraft or by trucks to ensure increased mobility in the mountains.

In case of the warships, the Navy will be setting six missile carrying vessels that will replace the 1980’s design Soviet-era ships of this type. These will carry the BrahMos, surface-to-air missiles, medium-range guns, and close-in weapons systems. It will cost Rs 13,000 crore (approx).

Also, the DAC will approve the installation of the 300-km range BrahMos missile on six warships, three of the Delhi class and three of the Talwar class. It will cost Rs 2,700 crore.

The DAC will also decide on buying 44,000 automatic hand-held carbines for the Army. An Israeli company has emerged as the top bidder following trials.

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