Army probing leak of howitzer trial report

Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Indian Army Monday said it is probing the reported leak of the classified field trial report of ultra-light artillery guns that it is procuring from the US.

“We are enquiring into the reported leak of the field firing assessment report of the M777 howitzers,” a senior officer at the army headquarters here said on condition of anonymity.

The procurement of 145 M777 guns from the US through the foreign military sales route had run into a controversy after some pages of the secret trial report came out in the open.

In fact, the leak came to light after Army Chief General V.K. Singh got a mail in which copies of a few pages from the trial report were attached.

The Directorate of Military Intelligence has now been entrusted with the probe into the alleged leak of confidential papers.

India had last year decided to buy 145 M777 howitzers from the US through a government-to-government contract worth $647 million in view of the urgent requirements of the army.

The M777 gun, manufactured by BAE systems, was in competition for the army’s tender against Singapore Technologies’ Pegasus howitzers.

Since the Singapore company had landed in trouble after it was mentioned in a CBI chargesheet against former Ordnance Factories Board Director General Sudipto Ghosh last year, the tender process could not be taken forward forcing the government to buy the guns through the foreign military sales route from the US.

The army needs these ultra-light howitzers for deployment in high altitude, mountain terrain bordering China and Pakistan under its artillery modernisation programme worth Rs.20,000 crore.

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