Barrel of US-manufactured Howitzer gun explodes during Indian army's calibration trial

Barrel of US-manufactured Howitzer gun explodes during Indian army's calibration trial”

The joint investigation team is at the site of the incident. The Army plans to acquire 414 Dhanush guns with each gun reportedly costing 14 crores.

According to Army sources, a U.S. made M-777 ultra-light howitzer being tested at the Pokhran range in Rajasthan had an accident on September 2 when a shell which was being fired exited the barrel in multiple pieces damaging the barrel of the gun.

As per the Army officials, it so happened that the gun was firing the Indian ammunition and the projectile, instead of ejecting out in single piece, ejected from the barrel in multiple pieces thereby damaging the barrel of the artillery gun, which reached India after a three-decade wait in May. "During the firing on September 2, a projectile, fifth in the series, exited the barrel in multiple pieces, causing the accident".

The extent of damage to the barrel of the gun is being assessed by Joint Investigation Team which is on the site.

Two 155mm/39 calibre M777 guns were delivered to India earlier this year, and over the next year, another 23 guns are to be delivered off the shelf while 120 will be sent in a semi-knocked down condition, to be assembled in India by Mahindra.

The defense deal between India and U.S. to by 145 M777 was made possible through the Foreign Military Sales program that allows the USA to sell arms, defense equipment, defense services, and military training to foreign countries.

Sources in the Army on Tuesday admitted that during a routine firing exercise on September 2, the barrel of one of the guns was burst. They were put to trial from June onwards to compile a "firing table" for these guns - the first new artillery for the Indian Army since the Bofors guns that came in the 1980s.

"BAE Systems is aware of an irregularity recorded during routine field firing of the M777 ultra-light howitzer gun on Saturday (September 2). We are working closely with the Indian Army and the U.S. government to explore the incident", a company spokesperson said. In contrast, 155mm towed howitzers weigh twice as much.

Working out to about '35 crore a piece, India is buying 145 such guns in a government-to-government deal with the United States at a total cost of almost Rs 5,100 crore.

Highly portable and capable of being transported by helicopters to the place of deployment in remote and very high-altitude areas, at 4,200 kg, the M-777 is being viewed as a potent weapon in the Himalayan terrain facing China and Pakistan.

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