New Delhi. 28 September 2020. BAESystems has produced and delivered 29 M 777 guns to the Indian Army. A total of 7 artillery regiments are planned, each of 18 guns.
The M777 is manufactured by BAE Systems’ Global Combat Systems division. Prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the United Kingdom as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components. Final integration and testing of the weapon is undertaken at BAE’s facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA.
At 4,200 kg, the M777 is half the weight of a conventional 155 mm towed gun, enabling it to be slung under helicopters for airlift to distant mountainous frontiers. The ultra light howitzer is intended to provide the principal artillery firepower to the Indian Army‘s Integrated Battle Groups deployed in the mountains.
The commencement of supply of these combat proven titanium artillery guns from an M777 Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) facility at Faridabad is a big landmark in the estimated $750 Million programme to equip the Indian Army’s mountain warfare formations with light artillery. The facility has been set up by BAE, the original equipment manufacturer, in partnership with Mahindra Defence & Aerospace and forms the core of the Make in India element for this deal and has to disburse offsets obligations of this deal. About 40 Indian companies have been brought into the BAE supply chain to meet the M777 offsets commitments. AIT facility is also meant to ensure that life cycle support is available locally for the Indian Army M777s, thereby increasing operational availability of these weapons.
The Excalibur precision munition recently acquired for the Indian Army can also be combined with the M777, which is combat proven in Afghanistan. The Excalibur reportedly extends the range of this ultra light gun to about 40 km.
From the Indian perspective, the benefit that the M777 brings to the Artillery is the increased level of mobility, providing 155mm firepower and lethality, with hugely enhanced mobility; being able to transport the platform to difficult-to-reach or sometimes impossible-to-reach regions. The M777 brings the whole new level of increased capability to be able to access those areas – high mountain regions, remote islands, any rapid deployment operation. You can tow it, air-lift, air-drop it, etc., etc. Increased mobility and rapid deployment would be the primary benefit that the Indian artillery have gained from the M777 procurement.
Added to that, the Indian Army has chosen an extremely reliable and battle-proven artillery platform, mature in design, and in service for over 10 years. It is an extremely simple design. It’s designed for light weight and reliability, is simple and easy to operate and maintain, stable and accurate.
The training takes place at the School of Artillery in India and with the EME. The entire programme is being delivered in India to make it easy as possible for the customer to integrate the platform.The India FMS programme sees over 80 per cent of the gun deliveries assembled in India. All deliveries will be complete by 2021.