| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

PM Modi in US: Biden to offer ‘Stryker’ armoured vehicles, howitzer guns upgrade to India, says report

Closing some of the major defense deals is expected to be among the key agenda items during the upcoming bilateral talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden.
Apart from the jet engine transfer technology and purchase of high-altitude MQ-9 Reaper drones, there are reports suggesting that the US is also mulling offering the “Stryker” family of eight-wheeled armoured fighting vehicles and upgradation of M777 light weight howitzers to India.

However, there is a rider. The India-based Hindustan newspaper has reported, citing officials from New Delhi and Washington, that the final decision to offer these two equipment is contingent upon the conditions imposed by the Biden administration.

If the deal goes through, it will be one of the significant components of the India-US defence cooperation, which will also likely see the inking of a deal with Micron for a $ 2.7 billion chip plant in India and a pact on quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
The Strykers are lighter and faster eight-wheel-drive combat vehicles built for the US Army by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS). It is armed with a 30 mm cannon and a 105 mm mobile gun.

The Stryker was deployed in Afghanistan to counter Taliban, and there are reports indicating that Biden is planning to send them to Ukraine as well.
According to the newspaper, the US is offering the infantry combat vehicle to India and the Modi government is looking for the local manufacture of the armoured vehicle under its “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India) initiative.

M777 howitzers
The report further mentioned that US has also offered to upgrade 155 mm M777 howitzers with precision-guided long-range ammunition to counter the artillery challenge on India’s northern borders.

India already has 145 M777 howitzers, of which 120 were made by Mahindra Defence Systems in a joint venture with BAE systems.

Other defence procurement
But by far the biggest deal expected to be inked is the F-414 aircraft engines that will power indigenously manufactured Tejas jet and the purchase of Sea Guardian or ‘Reaper’ drones.
The Indian Army has been looking to upgrade its armoury with killer drones ever since it took on a lease from US in 2020,

India needs the armed drones— at a cost of over $3 billion — to bolster its surveillance apparatus along the frontier with China as well as in the Indian Ocean region.

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