India's Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the INR42 billion (USD646 million) procurement of 100 modified South Korean Hanwa Techwin K9 Vajra-T 155 mm/52-calibre tracked self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) for the Indian Army on 29 March.
Officials said the contract for the K9 Vajra (Thunderbolt) SPHs to be built by Techwin's joint venture (JV) with Larsen & Toubro (L&T) at the latter's Telegaon plant near Pune, western India, was to be signed by 31 March: the close of financial year 2016-17.
The SPHs are being procured under the 'Buy Global' category of India's Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and will comprise 50% indigenous content. This will enable the JV to bypass the mandatory 30% offset investment of the overall contract value into India's defence, internal security, or civil aviation sectors.
Locally developed components will include 14 subsystems, such as the fire control and communication suites, in addition to India indigenously fabricating and machining the K9's hull and turret structure.
The K9 is powered by a German 1,000 hp MTU MT 881 Ka-500 V8 water-cooled diesel engine and driven by a fully automatic US-origin Allison transmission. Operated by a five-man crew, the 47-tonne SPH is capable of firing assorted projectiles to ranges between 18 and 42 km.
The K9's hydro-suspension and high ground clearance ensure mobility across varied terrain.
Constructed of all-welded steel armour and capable of withstanding 14.5 mm armour-piercing shells and 152 mm rounds, the K9's design incorporates an automatic fire control and loading system, a modular azimuth position system, and a powered gun elevation and turret traverse system.
Industry officials said the K9 tender would be the biggest signed with India's private sector for a large military platform and includes the option for an additional 50 guns.
The SPHs' supplementary K10 munitions supply vehicle, built on the K9 platform, is not part of the tender, industry sources have said.
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