Government sources with knowledge of the matter told India’s The Economic Times that the service is “planning to acquire the Excalibur artillery ammunition from the Americans under the emergency procurement procedures.”
According to the Diplomat, the deal allows the Indian Army to obtain goods “worth up to $72 million without prior approval from the Indian Ministry of Defense.” The emergency procurement comes months after the February 2019 standoff between Indian and Pakistani service members. The two warring countries have been engaged in a decades-long dispute regarding Kashmir, a hotly disputed region to which both countries lay claim.
The munitions, once obtained, will reportedly be forked over to Indian soldiers stationed along the Line of Control, a 435-mile line which marks where the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir begin. The projectiles are expected to be bought and ready within three months, the New Delhi Times reported.
This latest development comes after the Indian government in November 2016 approved a purchase for 145 air-mobile M777 howitzers from UK-based BAE Systems for roughly $750 million. Although the howitzers aren’t expected to be operational until October 2019 at the earliest, the systems are expected to be deployed to the Line of Control.
Aside from the Excalibur munitions and the howitzer systems, the Indian Army also has in its ranks at least 100 modified K-9 Vajras, a 155-millimeter, 52-caliber tracked self-propelled artillery gun system. The full delivery of the Vajras is slated to be complete by the end of November 2020, according to the Diplomat.