Amid the ongoing border row with China in Ladakh, with more M777 Ultra-light howitzers which have the capability of being swiftly deployed and redeployed and mountains the Indian Army is now set to scale up its capabilities, as said by the people familiar with the developments on Sunday.
For around $750 million, back in November 2016, an order for 145 howitzers was placed by India to the United States while according to one of the persons cited above, additional 56 M777 guns shall be possessed by the Indian Army by June 2022 and around 89 howitzers have already been delivered as of now.
Along with deploying the guns in Arunachal Pradesh across which activities have been stepped up by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the M777s have also been deployed by the Indian army in Ladakh where both the Nations have been locked in a border row for over 18 months.
Around 25 ready built guns have already been delivered by the manufacturer of M777 BAE systems while on the other hand the remaining ones are currently being built locally.
Equipped with the capability of striking targets at ranges of more than 40 km in areas where the geography allows the shells to fly in rarefied air, the M777 howitzers have a range of up to 30 km while it is a 155 mm/39 calibre gun.
A member of the national security advisory board said that the induction of the remaining M777 guns shall prove to be a big boost to the Indian Army while these guns can be easily moved from one area to another depending upon the necessity and requirements.
All about the guns
M777 guns weigh around 4,218 kgs while they are built with aluminium and Titanium alloys, on the other hand, in contrast, the 155mm towed guns weigh twice as much. These howitzers can be easily carried by the Indian Air Force’s CH-47F Chinook helicopters as underslung load for swift deployment in high-altitude areas.
As said by an Indian Army official, since heavier artillery guns cannot be practically deployed in many places because of the terrain, the M777 can be swiftly inserted there by sling-loading them to the Chinook helicopters.
Induction of truck-mounted gun, tracked self-propelled guns, wheeled self-propelled guns, towed artillery pieces and new 155mm weaponry are all included in the roadmap which has been laid down by the ₹50,000 crores Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP) of which the M777s are a key component of the Indian Army while it was cleared in 1999. With a mix of nearly 3,000 guns over the next decade, the plan seeks to equip 169 artillery regiments.
After the Bofors scandal that erupted in the late 1980s, in almost 30 years, the M777 order in 2016 was the first contract for artillery guns.
The K9 Vajra-T self-propelled artillery guns along with the 155mm FH 77 BO2 guns that are better known as Bofors have also been deployed by the Indian Army apart from the M777s I. The Ladakh sector.
The highly mobile K9 guns were originally meant to be used and deployed in the plains but some minor changes were carried out by the Indian Army to deploy them at high altitudes while the guns are built by
Private sector defence major Larsen & Toubro and South Korea’s Hanwha Techwin (HTW)
Surveillance and combat manoeuvres, infrastructure development and military activities on both sides of the boundary have been increased by the armies of both India and China who have hardened their positions on the line of actual control (LAC) in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
Along with advanced weaponry, the two Armies still have around 50,000 to 60,000 troops each deployed in Ladakh despite two rounds of disengagement at friction points on the line of actual control (LAC) this year.
In order to cool tensions in Ladakh, the suggestions made by the Indian army at the 13th round of military talks which were held on 10 October were not agreed upon by the PLA, while for resolving outstanding problems, the Indian Army said that constructive suggestions were being made but they were not been agreed by the Chinese side and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals while India was accused of unreasonable and unrealistic demands in an unusually aggressive statement by China.