NEW DELHI — Nearly two years after deciding to buy light howitzer guns from the U.S. subsidiary of BAE Land Systems, the Indian Defence Ministry has issued a formal letter of request to the U.S. government for the procurement of 145 M777 light howitzers.
The letter of request asked the U.S. government to approve purchase of 145 M777 155mm guns on a government-to-government basis. The deal is now likely to be inked before the end of the financial year, March 2013.
The contract, worth $700 million, took nearly two years to reach this level because competitor Singapore Technologies had taken the matter to court. The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had issued a notification to the U.S. Congress on Jan. 22, 2010, for the possible sale. Singapore Technologies and BAE Systems were in the running. However, following the blacklisting of Singapore Technologies in mid-2009 on charges of alleged kickbacks, the tender was scrapped and the Indian Army cleared the purchase from BAE’s U.S. subsidiary in early 2010.
The contract could not be signed earlier because in early 2011, information about the gun’s trials leaked and the Indian Defence Ministry set up an internal enquiry to look into the leak.
The U.S. government had sent two units of the M777 for trials and 84 rounds of Indian ammunition were used in the trials.