New Delhi, July 16: India on Sunday successfully test-fired on two long-range ultra-light howitzers in Pokhran which the Indian Army received from the US after a gap of 30 years since the Bofors scandal broke out, an official said.
The test-firing of the guns is primarily aimed at collating and determining various critical data like trajectory, speed and frequency of fire of the M-777 A-2 ultra-light howitzers (ULH) which are expected to be mostly deployed along the border with China, reports PTI.
The trials gains significance as the Indian army badly needs the howitzers considering the evolving regional security scenario.
According to the sources, the trials will continue till September for formation of the "firing table" which is a major aspect of the overall induction process.
The air portable 155mm/39 calibre gun, with maximum range of 30 km, is manufactured by BAE Systems. Out of 145 guns, BAE will deliver 25 guns and rest will be assembled in India by Mahindra.
Thereafter, induction will commence from March 2019 onwards with five guns per month till the complete consignment is received by mid-2021.
"The trials have been going on smoothly and various data are being collected for formation of the firing table," the official said, adding the aim was to ensure that there was no delay in the induction of the guns.
After a gap of 30 years, the Army received the howitzers in May as part of an order for 145 guns. India had last procured howitzers in the mid-1980s from Swedish defence major Bofors. The Army had received the howitzers in May as part of an order for 145 guns.
India had struck a government-to-government deal with the US last November for supply of the 145 howitzers at a cost of nearly Rs. 5,000 crore.
The Army has been pressing the government to speed up its modernisation programme.
In a major decision, the government last week had empowered the Vice Chief of the Army to procure critical ammunition and spares for key weapons systems to maintain combat readiness for short duration "intense wars".
The move, aimed at filling the voids in the Army's combat readiness, came amid nearly a month-long standoff between the armies of India and China in the Dokalam area as well as heightened Indo-Pak tension along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)