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India Signs Contract for 100 Self-Propelled Howitzers

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Asia Defense

India Signs Contract for 100 Self-Propelled Howitzers

The Ministry of Defense signed a deal with a South Korean defense contractor and its Indian partner last week.

India Signs Contract for 100 Self-Propelled Howitzers
Credit: L&T

The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and South Korean defense firm Samsung-Techwin, along with its local Indian private-sector partner Larsen & Toubro (L&T), reportedly concluded a contract for the purchase of 100 modified K-9 Vajra 155 mm/52 caliber self-propelled tracked howitzers for the Indian Army last week.

According to a May 12 L&T press release, the estimated contract value is around $ 700 million and constitutes, “the largest order placed by MoD on an Indian private company” under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s  Make in India initiative.  The procurement occurs under the Indian MoD’s so-called Buy Global acquisition program.

As I explained elsewhere (See: “Cold Start in the Making? India Approves Purchase of 100 Self-Propelled Howitzers”), the Buy Global category of MoD’s Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP) allows over-the-counter sales of military hardware bypassing the 30 percent offset investment clause mandated by the Indian government for the majority of foreign military hardware acquisitions.

“In lieu of the 30 percent offset investment of the overall contract value, the Samsung-Techwin/L&T joint venture agreed that 50 percent of the K-9’s hardware — 14 subsystems, including fire control and communication suites — will be domestically produced by L&T,” I noted. The Indian military selected the self-propelled howitzer in September 2015.

The K-9 Vajra 155 mm/52 caliber self-propelled tracked howitzer is a modified version of the Samsung-Techwin K-9 155 mm/52-caliber. The self-propelled gun has an operational range of 450 kilometers (279 miles) and can engage enemy targets at a distance of up to 40 kilometers (24 miles). Over 1,00o K-9s have been produced and delivered to South Korea and other countries over the last years. As I noted elsewhere:

 The K-9 Vajra is specially designed for arid lands such as the desert areas bordering Pakistan. Mounted on a tracked vehicle, the K-9 Vajra is ideally suited for mobile tank warfare. (…)

The Indian Army wants to induct this new howitzer into its mechanized strike corps to offer close fire support during deep thrusts into enemy territory. (…)

The overall number of K-9 Vajra required by the Indian Army will be around 250. This is based on the creation of at least three K-9 Vajra regiments for each of the army’s three armored divisions, as well as another three regiments for the independent armored brigades within the army’s three strike corps. [The Indian Army decided to disaggregate the three strike corps into division-sized integrated battle groups and station them closer to the border.]

The Indian Army’s requirement is for at least 250 new self-propelled howitzers. The acquisition is part of  the MoD’s implementation of its so-called Cold Start Doctrine of limited conventional war with Pakistan.