In a boost to India’s fire power, the Indian Army on Friday inducted M777 ultra-light weight howitzers and K9 Vajra, the first artillery guns to be induced in three decades after the infamous Bofors.
Beating the Bofors jinx, the Army will be getting 100 K9 and 145 M777 guns over the next two years at a total cost of Rs 4,366 crore and Rs 5,000 crore respectively.
The M777 is currently operational in Australia, Canada, and Saudi Arabia and has also been deployed in the war in Afghanistan. The tracked, self-propelled K9 Vajra has been assembled in Larsen & Toubro and will also be produced by L&T for the Indian Army. It is originally manufactured by a Korean firm.
While M777 will come handy along the borders with China, the K9s will prove extremely useful in the deserts.
Speaking on the M777, Joe Senftle, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems’ weapon systems business, said, “The Indian Army is receiving an extremely reliable and battle-proven artillery platform. The M777 brings a new level of capability to the artillery unit by offering rapid deployment and extreme accuracy. It can operate in areas that are difficult to access and is also very easy to maintain.”
“The M777 ULH is more than a very effective piece of artillery technology,” added Nik Khanna, managing director India, BAE Systems. “With the M777 program, BAE Systems has made the first step of our substantive Make-in-India commitment, which includes our pledge to develop a network of Indian suppliers for our global supply chain and deepen our relationship with industry in India. We are committed to a strong and collaborative working relationship between BAE Systems, the Indian Armed Forces and Indian industry.”
K9 Vajra has a maximum range of 28-38 km and is capable of firing three rounds in 30 seconds in the 'burst' mode, 15 rounds in three minutes in the 'intense' mode and 60 rounds in 60 minutes in the 'sustained' mode.
The first batch of 10 K9 guns will be delivered this month, the next batch of 40 guns will be delivered in November next year, and the last batch of 50 guns in November 2020. The 155 mm gun is also capable of direct firing with a range of one kilometre.
The army would be having five regiments of K9 and the first regiment is expected be equipped by July 2019, he said. The army is also going to raise seven regiments of M777 howitzers.
Four of these guns have already been delivered while five guns will be delivered every month for the next 24 month starting August 2019. The first regiment will complete by October next year.
The gun, having a range of 30 km, can be moved to a desired location using helicopters and service aircraft. Sources said the two guns will add major fire power to the Indian Army’s Artillery Corps.
The induction was carried out in the presence of Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman.