Rahul Bedi, New Delhi – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly
The Indian Army (IA) has formally inducted the BAE Systems 155 mm/39-calibre towed lightweight howitzer as well as the K-9 Vajra (Thunderbolt), which is a modified version of the Hanwha Techwin K-9 Thunder 155 mm/52-calibre tracked self-propelled howitzer (SPH).
The IA took delivery of 10 of the 100 K-9s that it ordered in mid-2016 for INR43.66 billion (USD600.4 million) from local manufacturer Larsen & Toubro (L&T) during a ceremony presided over by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 9 November at the Artillery Centre at Deolali in western India.
Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said the remaining 90 SPHs are to be delivered to the IA by November 2020, with the first K-9 regiment set to become operational by July 2019.
The IA also inducted three M777A howitzers, with another two set to be delivered shortly as part of the first batch of 25 guns being supplied directly to the IA along with Selex Laser Inertial Artillery Pointing Systems.
The remaining 120 of a total of 145 guns ordered in 2016 for USD737 million, will be built at the BAE Systems Assembly, Integration and Training (AIT) facility in collaboration with Mahindra Defence on New Delhi’s outskirts.
All gun deliveries will be completed by mid-2021, with the first of seven planned M777 regiments expected to be operational by October 2019, according to officials.
“With the M777 programme, BAE Systems has made the first step of our substantive ‘Make in India’ commitment, which includes our pledge to develop a network of Indian suppliers for our global supply chain and deepen our relationship with India” Nik Khanna, the Managing Director at BAE Systems India, said in a statement.