Sitharaman unveils M777, K9 howitzers for Army (Lead)
Nashik (Maharashtra) : Signalling a major milestone towards capacity building and enhancement of the Army, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday dedicated three top globally combat-proven weapons to the nation which got its Bofors Howitzer three decades ago.
The latest acquisitions include the M777 A2 Ultra Light Howitzers, K9 Vajra-Tracked Self-Propelled Guns and 6x6 Field Artillery Tractors, which were launched at the Deolali Field Firing Range at Nashik.
The army would be procuring a total of 145 M777 and 100 K9 guns which would be delivered over the next two years at a total cost of Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 4,366 crore respectively.
The 155 mm, 39 calibre ultra light howitzers have been procured from the US under government to government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and will be assembled in India by BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence.
The versatile M777 gun system, with a range of 30 km, can be lifted by helicopters and service aircraft, thereby providing the much needed flexibility in deployment in various terrains.
The howitzer is currently in service in the US, Canadian, Australian and several other armies besides proving its mettle in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The first 10 K9 Vajra 155 mm 52 calibre guns have been imported from Hanwha Techwin of South Korea in 'semi knocked down' state and have been assemble by L&T in India.
The balance 90 guns will be largely manufactured in India with some major assemblies coming from South Korea. The next batch of 40 guns will be delivered in November next year, and the last batch of 50 guns in November 2020.
"Its induction will give a huge fillip to the firepower capability of Indian Army on our western borders," a Defence Ministry official said.
The tracked, self-propelled K9 Vajra, with a maximum range of 28-38 km, is capable of firing three rounds in 30 seconds in the ‘burst' mode, 15 rounds in three minutes in the ‘intense' mode and 60 rounds in 60 minutes in the ‘sustained' mode.
The 6x6 Field Artillery Tractor has been indigenously developed by Ashok Leyland and will provide the much awaited replacement for the ageing fleet of artillery gun towing vehicles.
The event included a display of the sophisticated equipment and firepower by the Indian artillery.
Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, dignitaries from the US and South Korea and other representatives from the government, armed forces and Indian and foreign manufacturing industries were present.