The Indian Army has deployed a regiment of K9 Vajra self-propelled howitzers in eastern Ladakh, along the Line of Actual Control with China, where the two countries have been locked in a standoff since last year.
"These guns can also work in high-altitude areas, field trials were extremely successful. We have now added an entire regiment, this will be really helpful," Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, who was in Ladakh to review operational preparedness, said.
The K9s have a maximum range of 28-38 km and can fire three rounds in 30 seconds in ‘burst’ mode, 15 rounds in three minutes in ‘intense’ mode, and 60 rounds in 60 minutes in the ‘sustained’ mode. The gun is also capable of direct firing with a range of 1 km
The 155mm/52-calibre K9s were built by L&T at Hazira in Gujarat with technology transfer from South Korean defence major Hanwha Defense. Under a deal signed in 2017, L&T supplied 100 of these guns to the Indian Army. The howitzers were delivered ahead of schedule, with the last one handed over to the Army in February 2021.
L&T also built 13 sub-systems of the gun, including fire control system, ammunition handling system and muzzle velocity radar at its facilities in Pune, Talegaon and Powai in Maharashtra.
The deployment of a regiment of these guns (18 guns form a regiment) in eastern Ladakh will give a major boost to the firepower of the Indian Army. The Army has also moved Main Battle Tanks and Armoured Personnel Carriers to Ladakh to deter the People's Liberation Army.
Before a regiment of these guns was deployed along the LAC, at least three units were sent to Ladakh for high altitude trials.
“We are also examining whether more K-9 guns are needed,” Lieutenant general T K Chawla, Director General Artillery, said at a press conference on 27 September, ahead of the Gunners’ Day.
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