MUMBAI: Three more gun systems, including Dhanush, and two systems being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Indian industries, would be inducted into the Indian Army by next year, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat has said. The announcement came on the sidelines of the formal induction of two state-of-the-art gun systems by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday.
“Several new equipment are being procured. New assault rifles, other rifles, missiles and helicopters are being procured for the infantry. Similarly, three new gun systems would be inducted into the artillery next year,” Rawat said while interacting with the media after the ceremony to dedicate the 155mm, 39 Calibre Ultra light Howitzer and the 155mm 52 calibre K9 Vajra self propelled gun systems to the nation.
Stressing that such a ceremony to induct new weapon systems into the Indian artillery was the first in 30 years, the defence minister said, “These inductions will herald the new artillery of a rising India. The process of modernisation is very long and arduous. But, I’m sure the Indian Army shall rise to the occasion and ensure that this process goes through without any hiccups.”
Sitharaman also praised the contribution of Indian industries in the development of India’s defence manufacturing capabilities and added that it immensely helps the MSME sector.While the Ultra light Howitzers have been procured from USA, under Foreign Military Sales, would be assembled in India by BAE Systems, in partnership with Mahindra Defence, the Vajra self propelled gun systems have been imported from Hanwha Techwin of South Korea and assembled by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) in India. While the Ultra light Howitzer guns are being procured at a cost of USD 737 bn, the cost of 100 K9 Vajra is Rs 4366 crore, the defence minister said.
Due to their ultra light weight, the Howitzer guns can even be airlifted to difficult terrains, while maneuverability, speed and firepower are some of the strengths of Vajra. A 6x6 Field Artillery Tractor indigenously developed by Ashok Leyland, too, was integrated into the artillery on Friday.
“It’s a great accomplishment for us, as ten K9 Vajra guns assembled under the phase one programme, are being inducted ahead of schedule. The 155 mm / 52 calibre tracked self-propelled gun system hits the target with great precision. Two more guns are being readied at our factories and we shall start delivering in a couple of months,” Jayant Patil, director of L&T said.
Top guns for our braves
In a major boost for the Indian Army, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday inducted two different artillery platforms, the South Korean K9 Vajra T and US M777 howitzers, at a ceremony at the artillery center in Deolali artillery centre in Maharashtra.
Over the next two years, the Army will get 100 K9 worth J4,366 crore and 145 M777 guns worth J5,000 crore. “The 155 mm M777 Ultra Light Howitzers are procured from the Govt of USA. 25 guns are coming in while 120 being assembled & integrated in India. Can be air-lifted to areas devoid of roads & tracks. Negotiations started in 2006, gathered steam in the last 3 years,” tweeted Sitharaman.
The tracked, self-propelled 155 mm K9 Vajra can fire 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.
While the first batch of 10 K9 guns will be delivered by the end of this month , 40 will be delivered in November 2019, and 50 in November 2020.
The M777 howitzer, with an effective range of 30 km, can be deployed by helicopters and medium lift aircraft. Four of them have already been delivered.