Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani during the flag-off ceremony of K9 Vajra Tank made by L&T, at Hazira plant in Surat, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021

NEW DELHI: Engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro on Monday said Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has flagged off the 91st K9 VAJRA-T Gun from its armoured system complex at Hazira. Maintaining the track record of ahead-of-time deliveries in this Ministry of Defence (MoD) programme, the 91st Gun was also dispatched before the contractual delivery date, it added.

"Chief Minister of Gujarat Vijay Rupani flagged-off the 91st K9 VAJRA-T Gun from L&T's Armoured System Complex (ASC)," the company said in a statement.

L&T Defence is currently producing K9 VAJRA-T 155mm/52 calibre tracked, self-propelled Howitzer Guns under the largest contract awarded to an Indian Private Company by the Ministry of Defence through global competitive bidding.

"The 'K9 VAJRA-T' Howitzer Program involves the delivery of 100 systems with associated Engineering Support Package (ESP) covering Spares, Documentation & Training and Maintenance Transfer of Technology (MToT) to the Army Base Workshop to support the Howitzer regiments throughout their operational life cycle," the company said.

As a part of Make-in-India mission, the company established a greenfield manufacturing cum integration cum testing facility -- armoured systems complex (ASC) at Hazira near Surat.

"With the experience, track record, skills, capabilities and infrastructure that L&T has built at the ASC in Gujarat, we are ready to develop, qualify and build India's future armoured platforms for our Armed Forces.

"The Complex, set up under the Gujarat State's Aerospace & Defence policy to produce Armoured Systems, is a flagship Defence Production Unit under the progressive policies of the State," JD Patil, Whole-time Director & Senior Executive Vice President (Defence & Smart Technologies), L&T, said.

The company believes that under the Atmanirbhar Bharat policies, the complex will be engaged in providing sustenance to supply chain for building armoured platforms indigenously and Gujarat will continue to encourage and support the high technology Defence and Aerospace Production units, he added.

K9 VAJRA-T systems are being delivered with more than 80 per cent indigenous work packages and above 50 per cent indigenisation (by value) at the programme level, the company said.

This involves the local production of over 13,000 types of components per gun system through a supply chain of about 1,000 industrial partners, mostly MSMEs, with about 150 of them being from Gujarat, it added.

The company claimed that it took sustained efforts and innovated by indigenising K9 VAJRA-T, right from the prototype developed for user evaluation trials by utilising basic K9 Thunder from the South Korean Partner Hanwha Systems and indigenously developing and producing fourteen critical systems, including the fire control system.

The VAJRA variant developed by L&T with India specific features emerged fully compliant to Indian Army's needs during the arduous and extended field trials, the statement said.

The company said it exceeded the indigenous manufacturing content by grooming a young team of engineers and specialising them in manufacturing automation and integration with the help of its in-house team of weapon system experts as well as by training at Hanwha facilities in South Korea.

Subsequently, this team trained the supply chain partners as well as teams from L&T's five defence production units from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that served as the hubs for nearly 1,000 supply chain partners in a Hub and Spoke supply chain model.

The ASC is a state-of-the-art facility to manufacture and integrate advanced armoured platforms such as self-propelled artillery Howitzers, future infantry combat vehicles (FICV), future-ready combat vehicles (FRCV) or future main battle tanks.

Spread over 40 acres within L&T's sprawling 755-acre Hazira Manufacturing Complex, the ASC is built with facilities for robotic armoured hull and turret welding, CNC machining, system assembly and integration, and test tracks to conduct mobility tests on armoured vehicles.

Larsen & Toubro is an Indian multinational engaged in engineering, procurement and construction projects, manufacturing, defence and services with over USD 21 billion in revenue. It operates in over 30 countries.