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Army probing howitzer report leak at highest level: Antony

Posted by on February 15, 2011 0 Comment

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) The Indian Army has ordered an inquiry at the “highest level” into the leak of a secret report on the field trials of ultralight artillery guns to be procured from the US.

“The army has ordered inquiry at the highest level into the leak of the trial report on artillery gun procurement,” Antony told reporters here.

He said that the government was confident that nobody would be able to manipulate the procurement process of the 145 M-777 ultralight howitzers from the US through a government-governmental agreement.

“I assure you nobody will be able to manipulate our procurement process,” Antony said.

The field trials of the American howitzer were carried in the hilly terrain of Leh, Sikkim and the desert areas in Rajasthan, as also in the plains. The procurement has run into a controversy after some pages of the secret trial report came out in the open.

India had last year decided to buy the M777 howitzers worth $647 million in view of the urgent requirements of the army for additional 155mm guns.

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 ultralight 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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