Back in May 2012, Indian defence officials agreed that the Indian Army could have 145 M777 Howitzer light artillery systems. The deal still then needed clearances from India's Cabinet Committee on Security and its Ministry of Finance.
Five months on, India's about to issue the US Government with a formal LoR (Letter of Request) for these M777 Howitzers, paving the way for them to soon enter Indian Army service.
According to local sources, the Indian Army's getting these artillery systems so they can be deployed in remote, high-level parts of the country such as Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Once they've been acquired through the Foreign Military Sales programme and been pressed in service, they'll be the first Indian Army artillery guns to have been deployed since the mid-1980s.
Manufactured by BAE Systems, the M777 155mm lightweight field Howitzer is a rapidly-deployable artillery system that combines strategic mobility with minimal radar and thermal signatures.
The M777 Howitzer's been used in Afghanistan since 2006 and, to date, fired more than 40,000 rounds. It's got an unassisted range of over 24 kilometres and an assisted range of over 30 kilometres, while at peak performance levels it's got a five-round-per-minute rate of fire.
The M777 can be taken on the road at speeds of up of 88 kilometres per hour, or on rough ground at maximum speeds of 25 kilometres per hour. It can be towed by a variety of vehicle types, or can be airlifted in battle by C-130 Hercules strategic transport aircraft or CH-47D Chinook and MV-22 Osprey transport helicopters.
Indian Army Howitzers
On Indian ground, the M777 Howitzer's high-deployability will come into its own in the country's mountainous regions, say Indian news sources.
Besides the M777 Howitzers, in future months, the Indian Army is also looking to acquire 100 tracked guns, 180 self-propelled wheeled gun systems and 814 mounted gun systems.
More on these - and the Indian Army Howitzers purchase - in future Armed Forces International news.