Giving tremendous boost to the Armed Forces: PMNarendra Modi at Hazira gun factory

L&T Defence is to deliver 100 K9 Vajra-T guns, maintenance support package and transfer of technology to the defence ministry in 42 months. Mint analyses what this means for India’s military capabilities

by Maulik Rajnikant Pathak

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated Larsen & Toubro’s Armoured Systems Complex (ASC) at Hazira in Gujarat—the first private facility in India where the K9 Vajra-T howitzers will be made. Mint analyses what this means for India’s military capabilities.

What is the Armoured Systems Complex?

ASC is a state-of-the-art complex to manufacture and integrate advanced armoured platforms such as self-propelled howitzers, infantry combat vehicles, future-ready combat vehicles and battle tanks. A 40-acre facility at the 755-acre Hazira complex is building the K9 Vajra-T 155mm, 52-calibre self-propelled howitzer—L&T’s largest defence contract worth ₹4,500 crore awarded under Make in India. L&T Defence is to deliver 100 K9 Vajra-T guns, maintenance support package and transfer of technology to the defence ministry in 42 months. Ten systems have been delivered and the rest are expected within 22 months.

How does it contribute to Make in India?

The K9 Vajra-T systems are being delivered with 50% indigenous content (by value), which includes 75% indigenous work packages at the programme level. It involves local production of over 13,000 components per gun system through a supply chain of about 400 local tier 1 manufacturers, with over 100 small and medium enterprises. L&T has sought to indigenize the K9 Vajra-T, starting from building prototypes for user evaluation trials by indigenously developing 14 critical systems, including the fire control and ammunition handling systems. L&T also developed other systems for phase 1 production units.

What about technology?

L&T has a transfer of technology pact with South Korea’s Hanwha that includes training a team of engineers and integration specialists at Hanwha’s facilities. Hanwha is a maker of tracked self-propelled artillery systems.

How will K9 Vajra-T help the Indian Army?

The K9 Vajra-T gun meets the requirements of 21st century warfare, including deep fire support with its longer firing range, qualitative superiority to overcome a numerical inferiority with its higher rate of fire and accuracy, and effective and reliable fire support in all kinds of circumstances with its higher mobility and protection. The K9 Vajra-T is a variant of the K9 Thunder made by Hanhwa. Currently, the K9 Thunder serves in a number of armies, including the Korean army.

Is it different from other army tanks?

A tank-mounted artillery gun such as the K9 Vajra-T is different from a towed artillery gun pulled on the ground or transported by helicopters. The self-propelled howitzers are features of the Vajra. The gun weighs 50 tonnes and can fire 47 kg bombs at a distance of 43-75 km. The entire mobility is brought into Vajra’s artillery gun. It can turn around at zero radius and fire at long and short distances. Most other modern tanks find it tough to hit short-distance targets as they are not equipped to engage for line of sight.