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Who is responsible for M777 howitzer's barrel explosion? Not us, say Indian ammunition maker

A day after the barrel of recently-acquired ultra-light M777 howitzer exploded at a trial in Pokharan, questions are being raised against the Indian ammunition maker — Ordnance Factory Board.

The Indian Army feels that the shell manufactured by the OFB were responsible for the misfire in Pokharan, an NDTV report said on Wednesday.

According to the report, the state-owned manufacturer which supplies at least 90 per cent of artillery shells in use with the Indian Army, seemed to suggest that the failure was not unusual.

It is not the first time that there has been a damage reported during trials. The Tuesday's incident is third in four months when the barrel of the prototype howitzer has been damaged.

Meanwhile, BAE Systems, the US manufacturer of the artillery gun issued a statement and said that it would cooperate with the Indian Army to 'explore events leading up to the incident.'

The howitzers are extremely important for India's defence as the Indian Army badly needs them considering the evolving regional security scenario.

India had last procured howitzers in the mid-1980s from Swedish defence major Bofors. The alleged pay-offs in the deal and its subsequent political ramifications had severely crippled the Indian Army's procurement of artillery guns.

The Army had received the howitzers in May as part of an order for 145 guns.

India had struck a government-to-government deal with the US last November for supply of the 145 howitzers at a cost of nearly Rs 5,000 crore.

While 25 guns will come in a fly-away condition, the rest will be assembled in India by the BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence.

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