The Indian Army carried out a firing test of American-origin Excalibur artillery ammunition from M-777 ultra-light Howitzers at the Pokhran firing ranges on Monday. The M-777, A2 Ultra-Light Howitzer, which can be heli-lifted even in mountainous areas, was handed over to the Indian Army in 2018.
The firing was witnessed by the senior leadership of the Indian Army including Director General Artillery Lieutenant General Ravi Prasad.
Excalibur artillery rounds with 155mm trajectory correctable munitions, also referred to as Course Correctable Fuzes, use GPS technology to guide shells to their targets accurately, and facilitate co-ordination for mid-course flight path correction, were implemented in the test.
TCM (Tuason-Craig-Micromagnum) accuracy and first-round hit probability are significantly higher than that of conventional ammunition. This facilitates their use in close support situations within 150 metres of friendly troops.
The guided shells have been inducted into army units guarding the Line of Control, a 435-mile line which marks where the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir begin.
The shells, which can reach up to 57 km, can also be used in the K-9 tracked Howitzer gun that India bought from South Korea in 2017.
The relationship between India and Pakistan has deteriorated to the level of nadir in February 2019 when the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group claimed a suicide attack on an Indian military convoy which killed at least 40 soldiers in Kashmir's Pulwama. In retaliation for the suicide attack, a cross border aerial strike was launched on 26 February by the Indian Air Force in the Balakot area inside Pakistan to allegedly destroy terror camps. The following day, the Pakistan Air Force carried out retaliatory strikes using a dozen fighter jets and shot down India's MiG-21 Bison. India also claimed that its MiG-21 Bison brought down an American made Pakistani F-16 fighter jet, which Pakistan has denied so far.
For the past four months, a massive deployment of forces took place in the western sector after Pakistan had threatened India with retaliation in the wake of Jammu and Kashmir's special status being revoked by New Delhi.