Deolali (Maharashtra): In a boost to the Army’s firepower and capability enhancement, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday inducted three major artillery gun systems, including the M777 A2 Ultra Light Howitzers, K-9 Vajra self-propelled gun and a ‘Composite Gun Towing Vehicle’.
Speaking at the induction ceremony, held at Deolali Field Firing Ranges, the minister said many more such systems would be inducted in the Army in the next few years. “These guns are being inducted almost 30 years after the Bofors guns were inducted,” Sitharaman said.
Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre, Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, and former Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor were present.
The 155mm, 39 calibre Ultra light Howitzers have been procured from the USA under Government to Government Foreign Military Sales and will be assembled in India by BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence.
The gun system is versatile, light weight and can be heli-lifted, thereby providing the much needed flexibility in deployment in various terrains. It is in service in the US, Canadian, Australian and some other armies and has proven its mettle in difficult areas of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The first ten K9 Vajra 155mm/52 calibre guns have been imported from Hanwha Techwin of South Korea in semi knocked down state and have been assembled by L&T in India. The remaining 90 guns will be largely manufactured in India with some major assemblies coming from South Korea, the minister said.
Their induction will give a “huge fillip” to the firepower capability of Indian Army on our western borders, she said.
The 6×6 Field Artillery Tractor has been indigenously developed by Ashok Leyland and will provide the much awaited replacement for the ageing fleet of artillery gun towing vehicles.
The induction of the gun systems also gives a major impetus to Make-In-India initiative of the government, the minister said.
The procurement process for the equipment was initiated in 2006 during the Congress regime but didn’t advance further, the minister said. “In contrast, our government shrunk the process in the last four years and not only initiated the procurement process but ensure induction,” she added.
An impressive display of equipment and a firepower demo by the guns of the Indian artillery was held on the occasion.
Indigenous gun systems/surveillance and target acquisition systems recently introduced in service were also on display.