The Defence Ministry has started the process for the procurement of 100 more K9-Vajra tracked self-propelled howitzers, which are built in India by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) using technology transferred from South Korean defence major Hanwha Defense Co. Ltd.
At the height of tensions in eastern Ladakh in 2020, the Army deployed a regiment of these howitzers to augment its long-range fire power against the backdrop of a massive build-up of forces by China across the Line of Actual Control. Buoyed by their performance, the Army is looking at eventually procuring 200 additional guns.
About K9-Vajra howitzers –
- The K9-Vajra is a 155-mm, 52-calibre self-propelled howitzer. It is a domestic version of the South Korean Agency for Defence Development and Samsung Aerospace Industries’ K9 Thunder built by Hanwha Defense.
- The crew of K-9 is protected by all-welded steel Armour that can survive 14.5 mm Armour-piercing shots, 152 mm shell fragments, anti-personnel mines, as well as nuclear, biological, and chemical threats.
- In MRSI mode, the K9 may discharge shells (Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact). The K9 can fire three shells in under 15 seconds — one every 5 seconds — each with a different trajectory so that they all hit their target at the same moment in MRSI mode.
- This is especially useful in open-air surprise bombardment techniques against enemy fortifications and strongholds.
- The K9 has a maximum shell transfer rate of 12 rounds per minute and a maximum shell load of 104 rounds. The reloading operation is fully automated, and it is carried out via a munition bridge on the K10 that extends out to latch into a reception hole at the back of the K9.
- At the moment, India is one of seven countries that use the Korean-made K-9 howitzer. The weapon system was also tested at high altitudes by the Indian military.
- K-9 is used by six other countries besides India: Australia, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Norway, and Turkey.
- The 100th gun was delivered to the Army in February 2021, the contract for which was signed in May 2017. The contract involved maintenance transfer of technology to an Army base workshop to support the howitzers throughout their operational life cycle.
- The K9-Vajra was mainly bought for use in deserts, but the stand-off prompted them to be deployed in the mountains as well.
What is a Self-Propelled Howitzer?
A self-propelled howitzer is a howitzer that can move on its own. It has its own propulsion mechanism for moving towards its firing position on the battlefield and is employed for long-range indirect bombardment assistance. The range of an SPH is similar to that of its non-wheeled predecessors.