On November 5, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a prodigious moment with the nation that India’s nuclear triad has been completed as India’s nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, INS Arihant passed its deterrence patrol quite successfully. However, Diwali celebration for India’s defense capability is not yet over. According to media reports, two new guns, K9 Vajra and M777 will be inducted in the service from November 9, 2018, ending the 30 years of long wait for the artillery guns by the Indian Army. These guns will boost the firepower capacity of India along the Pakistan border.
After the Bofors scam, all the successive government stayed away from the procurement of artillery guns, apparently fearing the kickback allegations. But this has badly affected the artillery capabilities and the modernization of Indian Army in a big way.
K9 Vajra is a variant of South Korean K9 Thunder which are self- propelled guns. They are being made jointly by a South Korean company and India’s Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Limited. Among the 100 guns to be inducted, 10 guns are being brought from South Korea and the rest will be made by L&T near Pune. Vajra guns which are designed to suit the difficult Indian terrain can fire up to the range of 30 km.
BAE Systems M777 guns are ultra-lightweight howitzers which can be picked up by the helicopters and can be deployed in the high-altitude regions. Out of 145 guns to be inducted in batches, twenty-five M777 guns are being imported in fly-away condition and the balance 120 will be manufactured in India by Mahindra Defence.
Both the artillery guns have gone under a series of field trials in desert and hilly terrains. The complete consignment of the 155 MM calibre M777 ultra-light howitzer will be handed-over to the Army by mid-2021, as the delivery model is reported to be five guns per month.
The way Ahead
In our article, India’s Defence Sector Thrives Under NDA Despite Rahul Gandhi’s Attempts to Derail, we have explained how the current administration has been filling the glaring gaps in India’s defence procurements through consistent efforts. When it comes to the capacity increase of the artillery fire power, many other efforts are also underway. According to media reports, ‘Dhanush’ India’s first indigenous artillery gun, hailed as ‘India’s own Bofors’, is also ready for induction after passing all the trials. L&T has been working with France-based defence major, Nexter on an artillery system called Trajan. Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) developed by DRDO with other private players is also in the various stages of the trial. From all the above examples, it can be said that India’s artillery fire power is headed towards brighter days.