One of the ultra- light (ULH) howitzer M-777 that India imported from the United States under the foreign military sales (FMS) route was damaged during field trials, an Army source said on Tuesday.
The accident, during field trials at the Pokhran Field Firing Ranges, took place on September 2 and is being investigated, the source said. There was, however, no casualty or injury, he said.
A preliminary inquiry found that the projectile exited the barrel in multiple pieces, damaging the gun barrel. However, a joint investigation team comprising defence officials from India and the US (BAE Systems) is on the site to probe the accident. Further firing for trials shall commence based on analysis by the joint team.
Amid tension along the Pakistan and China borders, the Pokhran incident is considered a setback for the Army as the force is desperately in need of howitzers. The country last inducted Swedish Bofors guns in the 1980s. Since the Bofors payoff controversy, India has not been able to acquire howitzers.
This the second setback for the armed forces as in July, indigenously built 155mm artillery gun Dhanush had failed again after reaching the last phase of tests. During its testing, a shell hit the muzzle brake. Sources said the gun had faced a similar issue in the test-firing carried out in May. The guns are being manufactured at Gun Carriage Factory at Jabalpur.