India to buy 145 howitzers from US BAE Systems

NEW DELHI (AP) — India has agreed to purchase 145 howitzers from American defense contractor BAE Systems Inc. as it pushes to modernize its military, an official said Saturday.

Defense Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said the government will spend 30 billion rupees ($560 million) on the M777 artillery. No further details of the deal were immediately available.

The 155mm M777s have been used by both the United States and Canada in Afghanistan.

BAE Systems Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of London-based BAE Systems PLC.

Over the last decade India has become a closer strategic and military ally of Washington following decades of hostile relations during the Cold War when it was a close Soviet partner.

India is expected to spend $80 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its military.

The country has become the world's top arms and defense equipment buyer in recent years due to its concerns about China's growing power in the region and its traditional rivalry with neighbor Pakistan.

India last purchased howitzers for its army in 1986, buying 400 guns from Swedish defense company AB Bofors.

That deal became mired in controversy amid allegations that the company paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to Indian officials.

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