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BAE Systems to Manufacture Titanium Castings for Indian Army M777 Ultra-Lightweight Howitzer

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BAE Systems to Manufacture Titanium Castings for Indian Army M777 Ultra-Lightweight Howitzer

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Indian Army 155mm M777 Ultra-Lightweight Howitzer (ULH)
Indian Army 155mm M777 Ultra-Lightweight Howitzer (ULH)

BAE Systems and PTC Industries have signed an agreement to manufacture titanium castings for the Indian Army 155mm M777 Ultra-Lightweight Howitzer (ULH) at PTC Industries’ production facility in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. The agreement aims to produce the complex lightweight titanium castings, developing the tightly controlled fabrication process and ensuring the same parts can be manufactured in any future production of the M777 howitzers for India. The first sub-systems will be produced by the end of 2022, and there is a plan to progress manufacture of all three of the major structures (Saddle, Cradle, and Lower Carriage) that form the basis of the gun. Indian suppliers which participate in the M777 programme can earn a role in the overall BAE Systems global supply chain through their performance.

India ordered 145 howitzers from the US for $750 million in November 2016. The army has deployed M777s in Ladakh, where India and China have been locked in a border row for over 18 months, and also in Arunachal Pradesh across which the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has stepped up its activities. M777 manufacturer BAE Systems has delivered 25 ready-built howitzers and the remaining guns have been/are being built locally in collaboration with Mahindra Defence under the Modi government’s Make in India initiative. The 155 mm/39-caliber M777 howitzers have a range of up to 30km, but it is capable of striking targets at ranges of more than 40 km in some areas where the geography allows the shells to fly in rarefied air.

Indian Army has inducted the M777 155mm M777 Ultra-Lightweight Howitzer (ULH) in harsh terrain of Northern Borders.
Indian Army has inducted the M777 155mm M777 Ultra-Lightweight Howitzer (ULH) in harsh terrain of Northern Borders.

“The production process at PTC Industries is being developed and qualified to deliver the long-term support for the 145 M777s we are delivering to India,” said Duncan Stevenson, the general manager of BAE Systems Weapon Systems UK, which manages the manufacture and assembly of the M777 light-weight howitzers. “This agreement will allow BAE Systems and PTC Industries to jointly provide major structures to support the spares and repair programme required to keep the guns available for the Indian Army. It also ensures that the overall “Make in India” content of the ULH is above 60%, which will allow the Government of India to procure any future platforms under a “Make in India” acquisition requirement.”

The M777 howitzer is a British towed 155 mm artillery piece in the howitzer class. It is used by the ground forces of Australia, Canada, Colombia, India, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and the United States. It was first used in combat during the US war in Afghanistan. The M777 is manufactured by BAE Systems’ Global Combat Systems division. Prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the United Kingdom as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components. Final integration and testing of the weapon is undertaken at BAE’s facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The M777 cost is US$2.025 million per one unit (domestic cost, FY 2008) or $3.738 million per one unit (export cost, FY 2017).

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