(This was originally posted In The Print by Snehesh Alex Philip)
With China being the new focus of the Indian defence establishment, the Army is looking at ordering another 40 of the K9 Vajra Tracked Self-Propelled Howitzers for mountainous terrain, ThePrint has learnt. Sources in the defence and security establishment said the trials of three K9 Vajra, which were sent to Ladakh earlier this year, have been successful.
Plans are now being finalised to order at least two more regiments of the 155mm/52 calibre howitzers that would be deployed in the mountains. The Army had initially ordered 100 (five regiments) of the gun system under a Rs 4,500 crore contract in 2017. The order for the initial 100 guns, basically meant for the deserts, was placed with leading Indian private defence major Larsen and Toubro (L&T). The company had successfully completed the order in February this year
L&T has signed a transfer of technology contract with the South Korean firm, Hanwha Corporation, which is the original manufacturer of the gun system known as K9 Thunder. “Vajra is a beautiful and formidable gun system. It has a high range and because it is tracked, the movement in the mountains becomes easier,” a source said. “With its range and motion capability, the system can be deployed strategically.” Sources said that a cost criteria for the next 40 Vajras is yet to be worked out but the process is on.