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By the end of this month, Indian army will receive the first lot of the K9 VAJRA-T 155mm/ 52 calibre tracked self-propelled howitzer developed and built by Larsen and Toubro (L&T) Defence.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had given a contract to the company to supply 100 guns for Rs 4,500 crore. A total of 25 guns will be delivered now, said media reports.

The gun is reported to have undergone all necessary trials and tests already.

The gun is an enhanced version of Hanwha Tech Win’s K9 Thunder – self-propelled Howitzer – and is customised and co-developed by L&T to suit the specific requirements of the Indian Army, including desert operations.

The K9 Thunder self-propelled Howitzer is considered among the best in the world with over 1,000 units already in service in Korea and few other countries.

Outlining the capabilities and suitability of the gun, a media report said the K9 VAJRA-T meets the requirements of 21st century warfare, which is based on the following missions: 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 government had given the contract to L&T in May 2017. L&T, along with its South Korean technology partner Hanwha Tech Win (HTW), had bid for this ‘Boy Global’ acquisition programme of MoD in 2011.

Later, it emerged as the sole qualified bidder out of four bidders for the programme. The bidders went through a series of user evaluations, based on the performance of the K9 VAJRA-T self-propelled Howitzer.

Under the contract, L&T will deliver 100 guns, which will have over 50 per cent indigenous components, in 42 months, from its manufacturing facilities, including a new Armoured Systems Complex at Hazira in Gujarat.

The deal has not just boosted the Ministry of Defence’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative, but it has also made South Korea a major defence collaborator with India, said The Financial Express (FE). The technology to develop the K-9 Vajra-T guns will be provided by the South Korean defence company, and out of the 100 that has been ordered, 90 will be completely developed by L&T in their Strategic Systems Complex at Talegaon near Pune in Maharashtra.

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