100 K9 Vajra self-propelled howitzers to be acquired by India
NEW DELHI, INDIA — India is preparing to order 100 units of indigenously produced self-propelled howitzers, according to a tweet from the Twitter account @DefenceDecode. It is about the K9 Vajra which is based on the South Korean howitzers K9 Thunder.
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According to the agreement between New Delhi and Seoul, the South Korean company Hanwha Techwin will manufacture the first 10 units of the order, and the remaining 90 will be manufactured by the Indian company Larsen & Toubro.
India has long been choosing which howitzer to buy. For nearly two years in 2014-2015, the Indian Army and the Ministry of Defense conducted tests between the K9 Vajra and the Russian 2S19 Msta-S. In 2016, after she had already chosen K9 Vajra, the agreement was signed. In the following years, India increased the budget for the purchase of howitzers and included it in the overall defense budget.
The K9 Vajra is India’s answer to the Chinese PLZ-45A howitzers, which have now been upgraded to the PLZ-45A4 version. K9 Vajra consists of 14 core systems, all manufactured in India. India’s self-propelled howitzer features an additional GPS system that should enhance the combat capability of the gunner’s primary sight. Indian sources say that the howitzer is of a special design meant to meet the varying wear and tear in desert conditions. The designers envisioned the K9 Vajra self-propelled howitzer to operate in high-temperature conditions, including being able to change the rate of fire up to 3 shots in 30 seconds.
Most likely, India will arm the K9 Vajra with modified 155mm ramjet rounds. The shell will use a precision guidance kit for trajectory correction. Although the howitzer will initially be equipped with conventional ammunition, the new ramjet is desired by the Indian Army as its 2020 tests showed a range of 60+ km. According to sources, this projectile will come at a later stage when the howitzer is updated to the K9 Vajra-T level.
The K9 Vajra-T will most likely be an update that will allow the howitzer to operate at lower temperatures and at higher altitudes. According to some, this version will work with a completely new engine, as according to preliminary data, this batch of howitzers is expected to start arriving in 2028.
Indian sources claim that the K9 Vajra-T will also be the export variant. New Delhi will try to export the howitzer once it has permission from the South Korean license holder.
India intends to place an additional order of 40 more K9 Vajra-T units according to local sources. The K9 Vajra is important to the Indian Army not only for improving artillery combat capabilities but also for the future of the Indian light tank. Rumor has it that the chassis from the K9 Vajra will be used as the basis for a new light tank with 105mm and 120mm guns.
However, despite hopes that India will build this tank to counter its Chinese equivalent Type 15, the government in New Delhi is not optimistic about the light tank project. One of the reasons – the tank exceeds one of the requirements for its weight to be no more than 30 tons.
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