As Indian Army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane inducted the last of the 100 K-9 Vajra guns ordered, three of these howitzers have been deployed for trials in high altitude mountainous areas of Ladakh. Three guns arrived in Leh yesterday and are being transported to a high altitude base to be tested if they can be used in high altitude areas against the enemy, top government sources told ANI on Thursday.
Based on the performance of the guns, the Indian Army would consider placing orders for two to three additional regiments of the self-propelled howitzers for mountain operations, sources said.
The Army chief has been monitoring the induction and operations of the howitzers produced in the Larsen and Toubro facility in Hazira near Surat in Gujarat. The Indian Army placed orders for 100 of these guns from a South Korean firm and has been inducting them for the last two years in different regiments of the force. The K-9 VAJRA is the indigenized version of the basic K9 Thunder from South Korea.
The self-propelled guns have a range of 38 kilometers and are manufactured by Mumbai-based firm Larsen & Toubro in partnership with a South Korean firm.
The Indian Army had not inducted any new heavy artillery since 1986 after the Bofors scandal rocked the nation. With the induction of the K9 Vajras, Dhanush, and M777 ultra-light Howitzers, the army is obtaining new inductions in its inventory.
The next made in India howitzer is likely to be inducted in large numbers would be the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-developed Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) system.