A detailed investigation will follow that will be conducted by BAE Systems.
One of the two M777 ultra-light howitzers that India bought from the US as part of the $750 million contract signed last year has been reportedly damaged after a 155 mm artillery round misfired and exploded inside the barrel, earlier this month.
The damaged howitzer was shipped to India in May as part of the first consignment of the 145 models that India ordered last year, which was considered as a major defense deal between the two countries.
According to The Hindustan Times, the imported M777 ultra-light howitzer, manufactured by BAE Systems’ Global Combat Systems division, was in the middle of a test drill in Rajasthan’s Pokhran range when the misfire damaged the 9,300 lb heavy machinery.
“During the firing on September 2, the projectile, which was fifth of the series, exited the barrel in multiple pieces,” an army officer told the newspaper.
The army officer also confirmed that nobody was injured in the explosion and an inquiry team has been formed to investigate the mishap and the extent of damage incurred by the heavy gun.
Another detailed investigation will follow that will be conducted by BAE Systems.
— ANI (@ANI) May 18, 2017
“BAE Systems is aware of an irregularity recorded during routine field firing of the M777. We are working closely with the Indian Army and the US government to explore the incident,” a company spokesperson said.
The defense deal between India and US to by 145 M777 was made possible through the Foreign Military Sales program that allows the US to sell arms, defense equipment, defense services, and military training to foreign countries.
The induction of 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers was aimed at modernizing the artillery capacity of the Indian military.
The proposal to buy M777A2 Howitzers from the US was first moved in 2015 after the manufacturers of the artillery piece committee to set up assembly, integration and test facility in India to boost India’s domestic defense industry.
Going by the contract, the US Subsidiary of BAE System will dispatch 25 M777 artillery guns in a flyaway condition, with the remaining guns being assembled in India in partnership with private sector company Mahindra Defense Systems.
The two companies will jointly set up an AIT facility for M777 artillery guns near New Delhi.