BAE Systems announced on Wednesday that Mahindra will be its partner in the nearly $700 million-deal to supply 145 M777 howitzers -- the ultra light weight artillery guns with a strike range of 25km.
The gun deal would be through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) but the “spares, maintenance and ammunition will be operated through Indian systems”, defence sources said.
“BAE Systems has down-selected Mahindra as its business partner for the proposed in-country Assembly, Integration & Test (AIT) facility for the M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer,” BAE said in a statement.
India and the United States are in discussion for supply of 145 M777A2 LW155 howitzers for the Indian Army, it said.
“BAE Systems looks forward to working with Mahindra in the coming weeks to finalise details of this AIT facility and to negotiate the terms of its contractual arrangement,” the company said.
Last year, BAE developed and submitted a US government-supported proposal offering a higher degree of indigenisation on the M777 weapon system.
The deal highlights the commitment to establish AIT capabilities in India in partnership with a domestic company.
“The selection follows a detailed assessment of Mahindra’s ability to fulfil the requirements and provide best value to the M777 India programme, and in the future, grow its capability as a strategic partner for BAE Systems in India,” it said.
Joe Senftle, vice-president and general manager, weapon systems, BAE Systems said that as a founding partner of defence manufacturing in India, BAE Systems “is pleased to partner with Mahindra”.
The facility is a fundamental part of the M777 production line.