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Thursday, 21 August 2014

BAE Systems Barrow could clinch gun deal

BARROW’S BAE armaments plant could clinch orders for 145 more M777 ultra light army field guns.

There has been growing expectation that India will buy the Barrow designed howitzers.

The howitzers are manufactured by BAE jointly in Britain and America and cost more than £1m each.

Now a top Indian newspaper claims the Indian Government has authorised an outright purchase of 145 of the howitzers from the US.

The order would mean at least a year’s work for the BAE Global Combat Systems M777 project workers in Barrow – who build central complex parts of the gun out of lighter titanium and aluminium alloys.

A union source said: “It would mean at least an extra 12 months to 14 months work for Barrow which would be great news.”

But he said the plant would remain cautious until an order was actually placed.

Currently 862 of the guns have been ordered by US forces, and 38 by Canada. Australia is also expected to order around 35 guns.

The number of howitzers ordered will go over 1,000 if the Indian order comes to fruition. The ultra-light howitzers are wanted by the mountain artillery divisions of the Indian Army to be used in high-altitude frontiers opposite Pakistan and China.

They can be transported slung from some helicopters.

The Calcutta Telegraph says the country’s defence acquisitions committee has decided to take the foreign military sales route.

But no order has been placed.

The BAE gun is competing with another firm for the order but is thought to be favourite.

The army reportedly wants to buy 145 ultra-light howitzers, 158 towed and wheeled, 100 tracked, and 180 wheeled and armoured guns in the first phase as part of its field artillery rationalisation plan, the programme to upgrade its artillery divisions.

About 400 people work at the arms plant in Barrow working on the M777 and other projects.

But the plant is in the process of shedding around 60 jobs because of a rundown in other work.

BAE declined to comment on the possible Indian order which it said was only speculation.

Have your say

Some rare good economic news in Labour's recession, but voters in Barrow must vote Labour to block a Tory Commons majority. Electors can safely vote Labour there to stop it without Brown keeping his own majority, whereas further up the Tory target list in Northallerton voting Labour is too risky.  A win there probably secures another Labour majority so in Northallerton the Tories must be backed to stop them.

Posted by Hugh on 16 January 2010 at 11:14

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