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Source : The Hindu
|Indian Army K9 Vajra Self-Propelled Howitzer near China border at LAC|
The Defence Ministry has started the process for the procurement of 100 more K-9 Vajra tracked self-propelled howitzers which are built in India by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) using technology transferred from South Korean defence major Hanwha Defence.
“The Defence Ministry issued the Request For Proposal to L&T in November. Once they respond to it, the contract negotiations will begin,” a defence official confirmed.
At the height of tensions in eastern Ladakh in 2020, the Army deployed one regiment of K-9 Vajra tracked self-propelled howitzers there to augment its long-range fire power in the backdrop of a massive build-up of forces by China across the Line of Actual Control. Buoyed by their performance, the Army is looking at eventually procuring 200 additional guns. The induction of Dhanush, K-9 Vajra and M777 Ultra Light Howitzers has enhanced the reach of artillery firepower on the northern borders, as reported by The Hindu earlier.
The repeat order could not be more than the volume of the original order, so the number was fixed at 100 howitzers, the official explained.
The K-9 Vajra is a 155 mm, 52-calibre tracked self-propelled howitzer built by L&T with technology transferred from South Korean defence major Hanwha Defence based on its K-9 Thunder. The 100th gun was delivered to the Army in February 2021, the contract for which was signed in May 2017. The contract also involved maintenance transfer of technology to an Army base workshop to support the howitzers throughout their operational life cycle.
The K-9 Vajra was mainly bought for use in deserts, but the standoff prompted them to be deployed in the mountains as well, officials had stated earlier. To ensure that these systems performed optimally in the extreme cold weather conditions of the mountains, the Army also procured winterisation kits for the regiment deployed. There are nine items including batteries, oils and lubricants which need to be insulated from extreme temperatures and don’t freeze at -20 degrees celsius, which the kits cater for.
Since the standoff, the Army has deployed its entire range of medium artillery guns and long-range rockets in the region to augment its long-range fire power as part of the reorientation towards the northern borders.