On 9 November, the Indian Army has received the first batch of its new artillery weapons, in the presence of Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Army Chief Bipin Rawat, at Devlali Field Firing Ranges in Maharashtra. The Indian army have inducted into service new K9 Vajra self-propelled 155 mm howitzer and M777A2 155 mm howitzer. It is after 30 years that Indian Army are procuring such guns. Under the new government since 2014, procurement of Army equipment has been expedited.
The K9 VAJRA-T 155mm/ 52 is a tracked self-propelled howitzer, which has its roots in the K9 Thunder, the mainstay of the South Korean Army. The K9 Thunder platform is made of all-welded steel armour protection material. The design incorporates a Modular Azimuth Position System (MAPS), an automatic fire-control system (AFCS), a powered gun elevation / depression and a turret traverse system. The hydro-pneumatic suspension system provides high-ground clearance and mobility across different terrains.
Induction of 100 K9 Vajra at a cost of Rs 4,366 crore is to complete by November 2020. The first batch of 10 guns will be delivered this month. The next 40 guns will be delivered in November 2019, and another 50 in November 2020. The first regiment of K9 Vajra, first-ever artillery gun manufactured by the Indian private sector, is expected to complete by July 2019. The gun has a maximum range of 28-38 km. It is capable of burst firing three rounds in 30 seconds, intense firing of 15 rounds in three minutes and sustained firing of 60 rounds in 60 minutes, he said.
The Army is also going to raise seven regiments of 145 M777 howitzers. The M777 howitzer is a towed 155 mm artillery piece. The M777 is also used by the ground forces of Australia, Canada, India and Saudi Arabia. It made its combat debut in the War in Afghanistan. The M777 is manufactured by BAE Systems’ Global Combat Systems division. Prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the United Kingdom as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components. Final integration and testing of the weapon is undertaken at BAE’s facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
The M777 howitzers were ordered under a government-to-government deal with the US, and the $700 million mountain gun deal was signed in November 2016. One of the lightest guns that has seen active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, the M 777 will be deployed on the high altitude borders with China and Pakistan and is especially useful with the Chinook helicopters that can transport them quickly. Five guns each will be delivered to the Army beginning August 2019 and the entire process will complete in following 24 months. The first regiment will complete by October next year.