New Delhi/Hazira: India’s Larsen & Toubro today delivered the 81st K-9 VAJRA-T howitzer to the Indian Army, in a clear indication that the 2017 order will be completed well within the 42-month schedule, providing for the delays permitted under the Force Majeure clause due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The 81st K-9 VAJRA-T was flagged off from L&T’s Hazira facility in Gujarat during a digital event by India’s Defence Production Secretary Raj Kumar from New Delhi.
This is the first howitzer for raising the last of the five regiments for the Indian Army’s Regiment of Artillery under the current order. The Ministry of Defence had placed a Rs 4,500-crore (over $600 million) for 100 of these weapon systems in May 2017 on L&T.
Interestingly, L&T had led the bids for the Indian Army’s tracked self-propelled howitzer programme under the ‘Buy Global’ procurement category, a first of sorts, as usually such programmes are led by foreign companies as primes.
The howitzer has been customised and co-developed by the Indian and the South Korean companies to suit the specific requirements of the Indian Army, including desert operations, direct fire capability besides host of other requirements. The gun currently belongs to Hanwha Defense portfolio.
The K-9 VAJRA-T guns have over 50 per cent indigenous content and over 80 per cent indigenous work packages share. The howitzers are being delivered from L&T’s manufacturing facilities, including a new Armoured Systems Complex at Hazira, which was dedicated to the nation by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Jan. 2019.
L&T, supported by its then technology partner Hanwha Techwin, had bid for this ‘Buy Global‘ acquisition programme in 2011. Among the four bidders for the programme, L&T emerged as the sole qualified bidder, after a series of user trials and evaluations, based on the performance of the K9 VAJRA-T.