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Indian Army Chief to visit US: howitzer deal to figure in talks


US Army soldiers firing 155mm rounds using an M777 Howitzer weapons system. A file photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Aiming to further enhancing defence cooperation, Indian Army Chief General V K Singh will be on a six-day visit to the US starting Monday where he is likely to discuss the acquisition of 145 ultra light howitzers (ULHs).

During the visit from March 7-12, the Army Chief will also be inducted into 'The Hall of Fame' of the US Army War College, Carlisle of which he is an alumunus.

He has also done the prestigious US Army Rangers' course and still dons the badge on his uniform.

In his meeting with the US military officials, Singh is likely to discuss the procurement of M-777 ULH from the US through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route for the artillery, which has not inducted a new gun for the last 25 years, defence sources said today.

The acquisition process is now under scanner after the trial reports of the howitzer were leaked prompting the Army Headquarters ordered a court of inquiry (CoI) under a Lt General-rank officer.

The visit comes two years after former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor had gone to the US and also witnessed the firing of the same guns in 2009. Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar will also be part of the Indian delegation.

During the visit, the Army chief is expected to discuss the procurement of the Javelin missile system, which again has been offered to India through the FMS route, the sources said.

In the last five years, defence relations have been expanding between the two countries under the New Framework for US-India Defence Relations.

The US undertakes the highest number of joint exercises with India amongst all nations that includes the navy-to-navy Malabar and SALVEX, army-to-army Yudh Abhyas and aerial 'Cope-India' exercises.

During the visit, the Army chief will visit important US Armed Forces establishments and meet a number of high ranking defence and civilian officials.

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Army  India  US  Howitzer  

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