Correction: This story has been updated with a corrected date of Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, when the deal for the howitzers was signed.

— India has signed a much awaited $737 million contract for the procurement of 145 M777A2 LW155 ultralight howitzers.

The deal was inked Wednesday with the original equipment manufacturer, the US subsidiary of BAE Systems.

A formal Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement will be signed with the US government on Thursday, according a top Ministry of Defence (MoD) official.

BAE Systems executives here were unavailable for comment.

India wants the guns delivered as quickly as possible, however no details have been officially announced by the MoD.

BAE Systems partnered with Indian private sector defense company Mahindra Defence Systems to assemble 120 ultralight howitzers, and a remaining 25 of the guns will be supplied within the next three years.

The Indian Army is seeking a total of 220 ultralight howitzers over the next 15 years.

As per prescribed terms and conditions, BAE Systems will also set up an assembly integration and test facility here with Mahindra Defence Systems.

The MoD in principle cleared the pending program to acquire M777 guns from the US in 2005 after the cancellation of a previous competitive global tender over allegations of corruption by Singapore Technology Kinetics, which subsequently led to the blacklisting of the Singaporean defense company.

This will be the first overseas procurement of artillery guns after a gap of 30 years.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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