India’s artillery fire power got a booster dose on Friday as the country inducted big guns M777 A2 Ultra Light Howitzers, K-9 Vajra-tracked self propelled guns and 6×6 Filed Artillery Tractors in one go.
The event marks a watershed event in the history of Indian artillery, as the country did not induct any big guns for 30 years following a controversy over payment of bribe in purchase of Bofors guns from Sweden in 1984.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dedicated the globally combat proven M777 in a ceremony at Devlali field firing ranges in presence of junior defence minister Subhash Ram Rao Bhamre and army chief , General Bipin Rawat.
Senior officers defence ministry, India army and representatives of manufacturing industries, including representatives of US and South Korea government were also present on the occasion.
The 155 milimeter, 39 Calibre Ultra Light Howitzers have been procured from USA under government-to-government foreign military sales and will be assembled in India by BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defense.
Indian Army said: “The gun system is versatile, light weight and can be heli-lifted, thereby providing much needed flexibility in employment on different terrains of the country.”
The first ten K9 Vajra 155 milimeter/52 calibre guns have been imported from Hanwha Techwin of South Korea in semi knocked down state and have been assembled by L&T (Larsen & Toubro) in India.
Remaining 90 guns will be broadly manufactured in India with some major assemblies coming from South Korea. Their induction will add much needed firepower capability of Indian artillery.
The event also marked induction of an indigenously developed 6×6 field artillery tractor by private sector defence manufacturer Ashok Leyland. Defence Ministry said it was a much awaited replacement for the ageing fleet of Artillery Gun Towing Vehicles.
Ashok Leyland, a Hinduja Group company, is the largest supplier of wheeled vehicles to Indian army and the company has recently got orders for providing components for tracked vehicles of Indian army as well.