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Howitzer’s barrel bursts during trials in Pokhran

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 12
One of the first two M777 ultra-light howitzer guns that were imported from the US in May malfunctioned and its barrel burst during trials at the Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan on September 2. No injury was reported.
A joint inspection team of the manufacturer, BAE Systems, and the Army is at the site to examine the gun to ascertain the reason behind the accident. A spokesperson from BAE Systems said it was aware of an irregularity recorded during routine field firing of the M777 ultra-light howitzer gun. “We are working closely with the Indian Army and the US government to explore the incident. The company stands ready to provide assistance as required,” the spokesperson said.
Put to trial from June to compile a “firing table”, these guns are the first new artillery for the Indian Army since the Bofors guns that came in the late 1980s. The trial was to continue till September-end.
During the firing, the Indian-made ammunition exited the barrel in multiple pieces, causing the accident. “The barrel of the gun has been damaged, the extent of which is being assessed by the joint investigation team,” said an official. Further firing of the gun to complete the “firing table” would commence only after a report from the probe team was received, he said.
In December 2016, India signed the $737 million (about Rs 4,700 crore) deal with the US to purchase 145 of these guns from BAE Systems in a government-to-government contract. While the first 25 guns are to be imported in next two years, the rest would be assembled at a factory at Faridabad that Mahindra had set up in partnership with BAE System. The entire order is to be executed in 54 months.
At half the weight of other 155 mm towed howitzers, these ultra-light weight guns provide a rapid reaction capability. For the Army, the guns would be useful while in the mountains. These can be carried by Chinook helicopters — which too India is buying from the US — and can be quickly moved to areas close to the border.
First guns after bofors
145 M777  howitzers to be procured by Army
Rs 4,700-cr  deal inked with US firm BAE Systems
25 guns  are to be imported in next two years

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