BAE Systems M777 howitzer sales exceed 1 bn pounds

New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) BAE Systems has received an order for 93 additional M777 howitzers, which the Indian Army is considering for its artillery upgrade, taking the order book to 955 systems and its sales for the gun to over 1 billion pounds.

The US is buying 58 guns for the US Army and US Marine Corps while Australia is acquiring 35 through the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. The order makes Australia the third customer for the M777 system after the US and Canada.

Mike Smith, managing director for BAE Systems’ European Weapons business, said: ‘The purchase of additional howitzers is further endorsement of M777 as the most effective howitzer system of its kind. Its proven combat effectiveness means we expect more orders through 2011 as we continue to promote the system globally.’

‘The US government is currently discussing the provision of 145 systems to India as well as several other countries. In parallel, BAE Systems is responding to requests for information from a large number of countries wishing to expand their indirect fire capability,’ he added.

BAE System’ facility at Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is responsible for final integration and test of the weapon system. The prime contract management of the M777 programme and manufacture and assembly of the complex titanium structures and associated recoil components are undertaken at Barrow-in-Furness in Britain.

‘The M777 continues to provide artillery support to coalition forces in Afghanistan where its performance exceeds expectations,’ a company statement said.

The gun can fire the ‘smart’ Excalibur round, co-developed by BAE Systems, up to 40 km accurately enough to target a specific room within a building, reducing the chance of innocent casualties and allowing supporting fire to be brought down much closer to friendly troops, the statement said.

‘Weighing in at less than 4.2 tonnes, the revolutionary M777 is the world’s first artillery weapon to make widespread use of titanium and aluminium alloys, resulting in a howitzer which is half the weight of conventional 155mm systems. This allows it to be deployed by medium-lift helicopter quickly and beyond the reach of roadside bombs to otherwise inaccessible areas, extending its reach over the theatre of operations,’ the statement said.

BAE Systems is a global defence, security and aerospace company with approximately 107,000 employees worldwide. The company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services.

In 2009, BAE Systems reported sales of 22.4 billion pounds ($36.2 billion).

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