The Army is likely to get the K9 Vajra-T, the 155-mm/52-caliber self-propelled howitzer, after the artillery gun co-developed by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Samsung Techwin cleared the evaluation trials of the defence ministry in a global competition.
Although the bids were made under the ‘Buy Global’ provision of the defence procurement procedure, the K9 Vajra-T gun will be made at its Talegaon plant near Pune by the L&T.
Defence ministry sources told The Indian Express that the evaluation process was completed in September last year, when L&T was informed of the ministry’s decision. After completing the benchmarking process, the ministry, on December 22, opened the price bid of L&T as it was the only gun to qualify in the trials.
Ministry sources said that the price negotiations with L&T will commence this month and are likely to be concluded in this financial year. The deal for 100 guns is estimated to cost between Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,000 crore. The contract will also have a follow-up option clause of 50 additional K9 Vajra-T guns.
The first 10 guns are to be supplied by L&T to the Army within 18 months of signing, with the balance 90 guns to be supplied in the next two years. These will be the first howitzers to be inducted in the Army after the procurement of controversial Bofors 155mm guns nearly three decades ago.
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Four companies, including the Tatas, the OFB and the BEML, bid for the RFP (request for proposal) issued in January 2011. Along with L&T’s K9 Vajra-T, an upgraded version of OFB’s Russian MSTA-S SP gun participated in the field evaluation trial held from March to August 2013 at the Pokharan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan.
Industry sources said that L&T has modified Samsung’s K9 to create the K9 Vajra-T. About 50 per cent of the gun is planned to be indigenised by L&T in India, including the fabrication and machining of the hull and turret structure and 14 indigenously developed sub-systems.
Meanwhile, L&T refused to comment on the story.