Three new artillery guns and equipment, including the powerful K9 Vajra and M777 howitzers, were inducted into the Indian Army at the Deolali artillery centre in Nashik. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman formally inducted the weapons on Friday in Nashik.
Sitharaman said, “It is after 30 years that we are procuring such guns. Under the new government since 2014, procurement of Army equipment has been expedited.
Under the PM’s guidance, negotiations were started and within four years we inducted these guns and many more will be inducted in the future.” This is the first major induction since the Bofors were inducted in the 1980s.
While M777 howitzers are US-made light weight guns, the K9 Vajras are South Korea-made self-propelled artillery guns. Sitharaman, in a tweet, said, “State of the art Gun Systems being inducted today in the @adgpi – 155mm M777 A2 Ultra Light Howitzer.
This medium gun can be heli-lifted even in mountainous areas (sic).” She added that while the negotiations to buy the M777 ultra light howitzers started in 2006 with the US government, it only picked steam in the past three years.
The entire process of inducting 100 K9 Vajra at a cost of Rs 4,366 crore will be completed by November 2020. The first batch of 10 guns will be delivered this month, Defence ministry spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand told reporters on Thursday.
The next 40 guns will be delivered in November 2019 and another 50 in November 2020, he said.
The first regiment of K9 Vajra, first-ever artillery gun manufactured by the Indian private sector, is expected to be completed by July 2019.
The gun has a maximum range of 28-38 km. It is capable of burst firing three rounds in 30 seconds, intense firing of 15 rounds in three minutes and sustained firing of 60 rounds in 60 minutes, he said.
The Army is also going to raise seven regiments of 145 M777 howitzers. Five guns each will be delivered to the Army beginning August 2019 and the entire process will be completed in the following 24 months.
The first regiment will be completed by October next year, the spokesperson said.
The gun, having a range of 30 km, can be moved to a desired location using helicopters and service aircraft.
Compact gun tractor to tow 130 mm and 155 mm artillery guns were also inducted during the ceremony, the officer said. It is fitted with a crane that can handle ammunition weighing two tons.
Maximum speed of the vehicle without a tow is 80 km per hour which comes down to 50 km per hour with a gun attached to it, he added.