In a boost to the “Make in India” programme for the Indian defence forces, the first batch of “Made in Gujarat”, Howitzer artillery guns, christened “K9 Vajra-T”, is ready to be delivered to the Indian Army next month, official said on Friday.
“In Hazira, where I head the manufacturing unit, we are building the K9 Vajra which is a 155 millimetre/52 calibre Howitzer,” Sanjiv Mulgaonkar, head of the Larsen & Toubro Limited’s (L&T) defence manufacturing facility at Hazira, said at an audio-video presentation of the new gun at “Defence Conclave 2018” organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.
The gun is a variant of K9 Thunder, currently being used by the South Korean army. “These self-propelled Howitzer guns are being developed under the “Buy global” programme where foreign companies are allowed to participate,” he said, adding that they are being made with the help of South Korean Hanwha Techwin (earlier Samsung) as technology partner.
The two companies had inked a Rs 4,600-crore deal with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2017 to supply 100 such guns within 42 months. “We were contracted to deliver 10 guns by November 8, 2018, but we will start delivering next month itself. Our internal trials are going on right now. They are in final trials right now at the Hazira facility. After the trials finish, we will offer them to the Indian Army,” Mulgaonkar added.
The guns are currently being tested on the newly built test-track facility at Hazira. “This is a flagship programme for us and all those in Gujarat. We are doing more than 50 per cent indigenisation for this Howtizer… The base technology came from Korea. But it was not suitable to meet the requirements of the RFP. We put in many of our systems, and are indigenising a lot of equipment,” the official from L&T said, adding that the gun was displayed at the recently concluded Defence Expo in Chennai which was attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Similarly, L&T and France’s Nexter Systems have jointly developed a 155mm/52 calibre towed gun system called “Trajan”. It is currently under “user evaluation” by the Indian Army. While L&T is responsible for development of the mobility system of the gun, Nexter will provide the ordnance system.
At Hazira, L&T is also manufacturing interceptor boats. “We have already delivered 20 interceptor boats, and we have a total order of 58 boats. All of them are ready, waiting for the customer to take possession,” Mulgaonkar said, adding that the company has so far delivered over 300 systems to the Defence Ministry.