NEW DELHI: The Army is now testing whether its new K-9 Vajra self-propelled howitzers can be effectively deployed in Ladakh, even as General M M Naravane inducted the last of the 100 such artillery guns ordered for Rs 4,366 crore from a joint venture of L&T and South Korean Hanwha Defence on Thursday.

Three of the 155mm/52-calibre K-9 tracked guns, which have a strike range of 38-km, have been taken to a base up the hills in Ladakh to determine their suitability and efficacy for deployment in the high-altitude region.

Based on the performance of the howitzers, the Army could consider placing additional orders for them. “The guns were inducted for deserts and plains. Some additional kits would be required for high-altitude conditions where temperatures can dip well below minus 20 degree Celsius,” said a source.

The 100th gun, which is the Indian version of the South Korean K-9 'Thunder' howitzer, was flagged off by the Army chief from the Armoured System Complex (ASC) of L&T at Hazira, near Surat, in Gujarat.

“The production of complex platforms like the K-9 Vajra contributes to the Indian economy with a large multiplier effect, creates new job opportunities and plays a significant role in enhancing India’s Industrial ecosystem,” said JD Patil, director & senior executive vice president (defence & smart technologies) of L&T.

The order for the K-9 Vajra guns was placed in 2017, which along with the $737 million deal with the US government for 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers had finally broken the over 30-year-old Bofors jinx of the Indian Army.