The Indian Army after waiting for three decades will be getting two new guns K 9 Vajra and M777 on Friday, when these are formally inducted in the service.
The guns were expected to be inducted in Sept, however due to unexpected delays will join the Indian Army now.
In 2017, L&T signed a contract with Hanwha Techwin of South Korea for jointly building 100 self-propelled artillery guns worth Rs 5,000 crore in India.
As reported earlier, the gun is a 155 mm, 52 calibre gun, mounted on a tracked, armoured vehicle. Artillery units equipped with this gun will be a part of the Army’s strike corps, whose tank spearheads need artillery guns that can keep pace with them.
The K 9 gun has been developed under the `Buy Global’ programme of the DPP where foreign companies are allowed to participate —in this case Hanwha Techwin is the technology partner. The guns have been tested at the test track facility in Hazira, Gujarat.
The gun has been customised keeping in mind India’s different terrains and weather conditions. The first 10 will come to India in semi knocked down condition and will be assembled at the L&T’s state of the art facility in Hazira and will have the mostly Korean materials. But the rest of the 90 to be made in India will be almost 80-90 % indigenous. It will have locally made fire control system, hull, turret, electronics, NBC systems, autoloaders, air conditioning, and direct fire systems. The most important part of the gun – the barrel and the Breach will be from Korea.
The 47-ton gun will be powered by a German 1,000 hp MTU MT 881 Ka-500 V8 diesel engine which can fire up to 40 Kms.
L&T is also working with French company Nexter developing 155mm/52 calibre towed gun called `Trajan” under- going user trials at Indian Army ranges and is being fast tracked too for the modernisation of the Indian Army.
BAE Systems M777 155mm/39-calibre ultra lightweight howitzer (ULH) guns will be inducted too, after several trials including trials with the Indian ammunition. As has been reported by FE earlier, the trials were carried out for high-altitude and desert terrains.
The contract with the company indicates that 25 guns will come to India in a fly-away condition (two per month will be delivered), and the rest of 120 are going to be assembled at facility for the weapon system in India in partnership with Mahindra Defence, located in Faridabad. FE was the first to report that the Indian partner for contract was Mahindra Defence.
The $ 750 mn deal for 145 guns has come to India through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route under the buy (global) category of the Indian Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). These will be used in defensive troop deployment spread across the country’s vast rugged terrain. The gun will come with laser inertial artillery pointing systems (LINAPS), maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services.
A major portion of the M777 has been manufactured in the company’s UK plants. The UK facility produces core components like titanium forgings and fabrications, which make the M777 light enough to be lifted by helicopters like the Chinook to high-altitude deployment areas.
Before being sent for the final integration and testing phase to BAE’s Hattiesburg facility in Mississippi, US. The guns will come in semi knocked down condition and will be assembled here in India at the assembly, integration & test (AIT) facility for the M777 ultra-light howitzer. The barrel of the gun cannot be made in India as this is barred by the Berry Amendment, a Congressional Act in the US.
The AIT capabilities are from the US based company as it will provide not only in-country support to the Army on its weapon system, but also begin the process of indigenous manufacture of modern artillery in India under `Make in India’ initiative.