In a major setback to the artillery program of the Indian Army, one of the two artillery guns imported by the country from the US got severely damaged in an accident Pokhran’s field firing ranges.
The Indian Express reports sources revealing that the incident had taken place on September 2, when the US manufactured M-777 ultra-light gun was firing Indian ammunition for a compilation of range tablets. Reportedly, the gun suffered heavy damage when a shell manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) of India’s Ministry of Defense, exploded. The projectile, the fifth one in the series had made the exit from the barrel in multiple pieces.
This accident makes it the third one in four months when a gun being tested by the Army before its induction has had its barrel run-down because of defective 155mm High Explosive shells procured from the OFB.
Fortunately, no Army personnel suffered an injury in the accident. A Joint Investigation Team of the Army and BAE Ltd, the manufacturer of the gun, is assessing the damage caused. Meanwhile, the firing of other M-777 guns for compiling firing tables has been put on hold.
This US made M-777 ultra-light howitzer was one of the first two guns imported by the Indian Army in a 700 million dollar government-to-government deal between the United States and India for procurement of 145 M-777 artillery. Partly made of titanium, this gun weighs 4.2 tons, which is only a third of the normal 155mm howitzers. The gun has a range of 25 km and is capable of being slung under a helicopter and is planned for use at high-altitude locations along the border of China.