The Indian Army has taken delivery of the 51st K-9 Vajra 155 mm/52 caliber self-propelled tracked howitzer ahead of schedule, the gun’s manufacturer, private-sector defense contractor Larsen & Toubro (L&T), said in a January 16 statement.
The defense contractor rolled out the 51st K-9 howitzer gun at L&T’s Armored System Complex (ASC) facility in the western coastal town of Hazira in the state of Gujarat in the presence of Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh.
“Maintaining the track record of ahead-of-time deliveries of the first 50 guns in the K9 VAJRA-T program, the 51st gun was also dispatched months ahead of contractual delivery date – a testimony to the technical capability, complex system integration skills, planning prowess and execution efficiency of L&T Defense,” the company said in a statement.
The 47-ton K-9 Vajra is a modified version of the Samsung-Techwin K-9 155 mm/52-caliber. Powered by a German-made 1,000 hp MTU MT 881 Ka-500 V8 water-cooled diesel, the K-9 has an operational range of 450 kilometers (279 miles). The howitzer can engage enemy targets at a distance of up to 40 kilometers (24 miles). The Indian Army also purchased M982 Excalibur precision-guided, extended range artillery projectiles for the K-9. Excalibur shells have an effective range of up to 50 kilometers. As I reported 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 Vajras 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.
South Korean defense firm Samsung-Techwin and its local partner, L&T, signed a contract for 100 self-propelled howitzers in 2017. The contract requires L&T to complete delivery of all 100 K9 Vajra-Ts to the IA by the end of 2020.
The Indian Army took delivery of the first batch of ten K-9s in November 2019. Induction of all 100 howitzers is expected to be completed ahead of the schedule by November 2020. An induction ceremony for the first K-9 Vajra was held at the Indian Army Artillery School, located in Deolali in Nashik district, Maharashtra, in November 2018.