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US to Supply Medium-Calibre Guns to Indian Navy as Tensions with China Rise

Underlining the bipartisan American consensus on building stronger security ties with India, US Envoy to New Delhi Kenneth Juster on Tuesday emphasised the growing military sales between the two countries. The envoy claimed that India has purchased US weaponry valued at more than $20 billion in the past 15 years.

The US Navy will provide three 127mm medium-calibre guns to equip the Indian Navy's warship urgently as part of a $520 million deal, ANI News Agency reported on Wednesday.

The first three guns provided would be from the American Navy inventory and will be an upgrade for the Indian Navy as it will mark the first medium-calibre guns the Indian Navy has. At present the Indian Navy uses 100mm artillery on all warships.

India issued a Letter of Request to the US Government to buy 13 guns which are 127mm medium-calibre meant to equip the Project 15B Visakhapatnam-class stealth destroyers and the Project 17A stealth frigates.

The US Department of State said in November 2019 that besides 13 MK 45 5-inch/62-calibre (MOD 4) naval guns, India also asked to buy 3500 D349 projectiles, and ammunition which will cost around $1.02 billion.

The 127-mm 62-calibre Mk 45 naval guns have a Naval Surface Fire Support range of more than 20 nautical miles (32 km) with the US Navy’s new 5-inch Cargo projectile and an improved propelling charge. 

The MK-45 Gun System will provide the capability to conduct anti-­surface warfare and anti-air defence missions while enhancing interoperability with US and other allied forces.

The recent deal has gone to show how good a relationship the Indian Navy has developed with its US counterpart as a large number of its acquisitions are from the US, including multi-role helicopters.

“In the past three years, the Indian military has inducted several US-origin platforms, including Apache attack helicopters, Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, and M777 ultra-lightweight artillery,” Kenneth Juster, the US ambassador to India said on Tuesday.

The American Predator drones have also been leased by the Indian Navy from an American firm even as more such unmanned equipment is likely to find its way to India from America.

Juster also confirmed that the US has cooperated with India during its standoff with China, but would not specify the level or nature of the cooperation. Tensions between India and China erupted last year when they accused each other of violating border agreements in the Ladakh region.

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