145 guns to be bought at a cost of Rs. 3,000 crore

The Army on Friday got a major boost to its modernisation programme with the Defence Ministry clearing its pending Rs. 3,000-crore proposal to buy 145 ultra-light howitzer (ULH) guns. It will be the first new purchase of artillery guns in the last 27 years since the Bofors guns payoff scam broke out in the late 1980s.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, cleared the M777 BAE Systems guns that will be purchased under a $700-million deal through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route between the U.S. and India, sources in the Defence Ministry said.

The decision will be finally ratified by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

Recently, Army chief General V.K. Singh had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, highlighting the gaps in its preparedness.

The ULH guns will be of 39 calibre and weigh about 3,200 kg. each. They can be “air-dropped” in a high-altitude position by a chopper in inaccessible areas where road connections are poor or remain under snow. The guns can be deployed in high-altitude areas in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, the sources said.

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