Army inquiring leakage of secret report

New Delhi: Army is inquiring whether a secret report regarding trial of ultra-light gunships proposed to be procured from the US has been leaked.

The Army proposes to procure 145 M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzers (ULH) from the US through an inter-governmental agreement, which will mark the first deal of the artillery gunships that India has entered into in 25 years after the Bofors gun scandal broke out.

"There are allegations about the trial report being leaked and we are looking into it," an army source said but pointed out that no formal investigation, usually conducted by the Military Intelligence, has been ordered so far.

The field trials of the American howitzer have been carried out at various places including Leh, Sikkim besides the desert and plain areas also. The trials are yet to be completed, the source said.

American BAE Systems and Singapore Technologies Kinetics (STK) were the two contenders for the deal to supply the 155mm/39 calibre guns to the Army for being deployed in mountains.

The Government decided to go for the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route to procure the M-777 howitzers from the US after STK was blacklisted for its alleged involvement in the Ordnance Factory Board scam in 2009.

Due to the blacklisting, the Army had to cancel the tender for procuring 400 towed howitzers also and has reissued a new Request For Proposal (RFP) last month.

The deal is critical for the Army to do away with the deficiency of modern howitzers in Service and Army Chief General V K Singh had expressed hope that the guns would be inducted by the end of this year into the force.