Larsen and Toubro selected to supply 100 self-propelled howitzers to the Indian Army 23009152

Defence & Security News - India
Larsen and Toubro selected to supply 100 self-propelled howitzers to the Indian Army
India is finally set to get its own mobile howitzers that will reverse the longheld Pakistani battlefield edge on artillery guns. The guns Pakistan have were supplied by the US ostensibly for the 'war on terror'. In a deal that would also fit the 'Make in India' mandate, domestic manufacturer Larsen and Toubro has emerged as the finalist for a $750-million contract to supply 100 self-propelled artillery guns to the Indian Army.
Larsen and Toubro selected to supply 100 self propelled howitzers to the Indian Army 640 001Larsen and Toubro will produce its K9 VAJRA-T self-propelled howitzer for the Indian Army
The 155 mm artillery guns are specially designed for operation in the desert areas bordering Pakistan and have been a longstanding requirement of the Indian Army, officials said. India's concerns over Pakistan acquiring an edge in conventional warfare escalated in 2009 when the US supplied it 115 of the modern M 109A5 cannons as a "reward" for its assistance in the war on the Afghanistan border.

Once signed — the final process could take another six months — the Vajra could be the first new artillery gun to be produced in India since the 1980s when the Bofors was acquired. A parallel effort to procure M777 ultra-light howitzers from the US is under progress.

The Vajra will be produced at L&T's Pune facility and could be considered for exports in the future, along with an expected followon order for more guns for the Army.

The victory is especially sweet for L&T as it was competing in the global category, which was open to all arms vendors around the world.

The Vajra beat its Russian competitor on several technical grounds, including rate of fire, accuracy and mobility trials, officials said. L&T officials, however, refused to comment on the development.

The K9 VAJRA-T is a variant of Southr-Korea's K9 Thunder which is inarguably the world's best 155mm/52 Cal.SPH in terms of number of systems in active service. Currently, K9 Thunder is serving as one of the main conventional deterrent forces for a number of armies including the Korean Army. K9 Thunder has established its superiority through demonstrations and evaluation tests at various proving grounds in extreme weather conditions, jungles, barren deserts and severely cold areas. By demonstrating its ability to handle Indian as well as all NATO standard ammunitions, K9 VAJRA-T has proven its excellent conformability to any field artillery unit.

India's artillery modernisation plans have been stuck since the 1980s after the Bofors kickbacks scandal. Not a single new modern system has been purchased since, seriously limiting the Army's battlefield edge.

Self-propelled guns are vital for their "shoot and scoot" ability as well as a high flexibility of deployment in the battlefield.

While Pakistan managed to procure the American systems in 2009, India's plans for similar systems have been stuck since 1999, with several failed rounds at identifying a gun.