K-9 Vajra-T:: India’s Deadly Self-Propelled Howitzer
The K9 VAJRA-T gun is an enhanced version of HTW’s K9 Thunder which is known as one of the best performing self- propelled howitzers in the world.
During repeated army trials, the K-9 Vajra — a variant of the K-9 Thunder — outperformed its Russian competitor, the Russian self-propelled 2S19 Msta-S howitzer, which had been specifically modified with a 155mm/52 caliber gun to fit Indian Army requirements.
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. According to the Business Standard, 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 first batch of 10 K9 VAJRA-T guns was directly brought from South Korea and then locally assembled in greenfield manufacturing line at Hazira, Gujarat of L&T and later remaining 90 guns will be manufactured at the same facility and full order will be completed within next 3 years.
L&T will also be in charge of providing life support of K9 VAJRA-T to the Indian army for next few decades to come. K9 VAJRA-T will have over 50 percent of the indigenous sourced content.
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.
Half of the parts for the guns will be built in India, despite the K-9 Vajra falling under the “Buy Global” procurement category, which allows over-the-counter sales of military hardware. The Business Standard explains:
L&T [Larsen & Toubro] plans to build 13 major sub-systems of the K-9 Vajra at its facilities in Pune, Talegaon, and Powai. This includes the fire control system, ammunition handling system, muzzle velocity radar, and the nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) system.
In addition to the K-9 Vajra, the Indian military is also expected to receive 114 out of a total of 414 Dhanush 155mm towed howitzers by 2017, which would be India’s first new artillery pieces since the 1980s. The military also plans to acquire 180 wheeled self-propelled howitzers over the next few years.
Interestingly Indian Public sector Company OFB is also working to develop its own Tracked Self Propelled (SP) gun based on its Dhanush Gun. OFB already has showcased first prototype of 155 mm/52 Dhanush Truck Mounted based Howitzer recently which it has developed under separate program . OFB plans to pitch both its Tracked and Wheeled self-propelled artillery based on Dhanush Gun to Indian Army .