Stalled Fire

Artillery purchases are making progress, albeit slowly, while ammunition levels continue to cause concern

A FORCE Report

The Indian Army continues to make slow progress with regards to the acquisition of modern artillery systems. Incredibly, it has been almost three decades since a modern 155 mm artillery weapon was inducted by the army; the 1987 acquisition of 410 Bofors FH77B02 howitzers being the last acquisition of a modern artillery gun system.

Nexter’s Caesar gun with the UN troops
Nexter’s Caesar gun with the UN troops

An estimated 2,820 artillery guns of various types were to have been acquired to replace obsolete guns and equip new units as part of the Indian Army’s Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan. The sole success in 2015 was the clearance accorded by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) for the long pending proposal for the purchase of 145 BAE Systems M777 Ultra-Light howitzers, to be acquired at a cost of Rs 2,900 crore. A formal contract is expected to be signed this year and there are reports that additional quantities of the light-weight howitzer could be ordered.

The M777 will be procured via the Foreign Military (FMS) route but spares, maintenance and ammunition will be procured through Indian systems. The USP of the M777 is its portability; two M777 howitzers can be transported in a single C-130 Hercules and be d