Army orders COI into leakage of Howitzer trial papers | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Army orders COI into leakage of Howitzer trial papers

delhi Updated: Feb 22, 2011 20:46 IST

The Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) headed by a Lieutenant General-rank officer to look into the leakage of a secret report regarding trials of ultra-light gunships proposed to be procured from the US.

The CoI has been tasked to find out how and from where the report leaked and to find out the officials to be held responsible for it, defence ministry sources said.

The probe was ordered after the Army headquarters received an anonymous letter with five pages of the field trial report of the M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzers (ULH), 145 of which are being procured from the US through an inter-governmental agreement, they added.

This is the first deal of the artillery gunships that India has entered into in 25 years after the Bofors gun scandal broke out.

The field trials of the American howitzer have been carried out at various places including Leh, Sikkim besides the desert and plain areas also. The trials are yet to be completed, the source said.

American BAE Systems and Singapore Technologies Kinetics (STK) were the two contenders for the deal to supply the 155mm/39 calibre guns to the Army for being deployed in mountains.

The Government decided to go for the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route to procure the M-777 howitzers from the US after STK was blacklisted for its alleged involvement in the Ordnance Factory Board scam in 2009.

Due to the blacklisting, the Army had to cancel the tender for procuring 400 towed howitzers also and has reissued a new Request For Proposal (RFP) last month.

The deal is critical for the Army to do away with the deficiency of modern howitzers in Service and Army Chief General V K Singh had expressed hope that the guns would be inducted by the end of this year into the force.