NEW DELHI –  India cleared the purchase of 145 Ultra Light Howitzers at a cost of around $750 million from US, as well as bulk production of home-grown 18 Dhanush artillery guns and several other defense deals.

Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, who chaired the June 25 Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), reviewed multiple defense proposals, including new defense schemes valued at $4.1 billion, a Ministry of Defense (MoD) official said.

Earlier this month, US issued a letter of acceptance, and today DAC reviewed the terms and conditions and approved the program. MoD will soon send India's response and the process for the payment of the first installment will begin.

BAE Systems of the US will also discharge offsets valued at $200 million, taken up independently.

In 2013, MoD issued a letter of request to the US government, showing interest in procuring the M777 artillery guns to be uses in high altitude terrains near the China border. The India Army will receive 25 ultra light howitzers in fly-away condition. BAE Systems will assemble the remaining guns in India in partnership with private company Mahindra Defence Systems, the two setting up an assembly integration and test facility for M777 artillery guns near New Delhi.

In addition, DAC also cleared bulk production of 18 indigenous Dhanush artillery guns to be produced in India at a cost of $1.8 million per piece, developed and manufactured by state-owned Ordnance Factory Board. Dhanush is an upgraded version of the original 155 mm howitzer artillery guns brought in 1987, expanding the barrel of the gun from 39 mm to 45 mm caliber.

Since 1989, the Indian Army has not inducted any type of artillery guns.

DAC also gave approval to issue domestic tenders for six next generation missile vessels under 'Buy Indian' category, valued at $1.75 billion, and purchase of five diving support craft from domestic shipyards at a cost of $22 million. The $57 million modernization plan of the Indian Navy's dockyards and naval ship repair yards was also approved Saturday.

Regarding another important project, the Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) systems, DAC decided to continue the acquisition process as a multi-vendor competition. Saab of Sweden, Rosoboronexport of Russia and Rafael of Israel qualified in field trials in India last year. The Indian Army intends to procure two regiments of SRSAM systems along with 800 missiles and complete technology transfer.

DAC also cleared purchase of home made simulators for Jaguar aircraft at a cost of $73.5 million and development of an electronic warfare range at a cost of $191 million.

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