Army gets new artillery guns; K9 Vajra, M-777 howitzers inducted

Vikas SV

New Delhi, Nov 9: In what would significantly bolster India's attacking capability, the Indian Army on Friday (November 9) 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'.

This is the first major induction since the Bofors were inducted in the 1980s. While M777 howitzers are US-made light weight guns, the K9 Vajras are South Korea-made self-propelled artillery guns.

The 155mm, 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 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.

About M777 howitzer guns:

M777 Howitzer gun fires in the air

The M777 howitzer is a towed 155 mm artillery piece. It succeeded the M198 howitzer in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army in 2005. The M777 is also used by the ground forces of Australia, Canada, India and Saudi Arabia. It made its combat debut in the War in Afghanistan.

Ceremony at Deolali artillery centre, in Nashik

The M777 is manufactured by BAE Systems' Global Combat Systems division. Prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the United Kingdom as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components. Final integration and testing of the weapon is undertaken at BAE's facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Formal induction of three major artillery gun systems

With a weight of 4,200 kg (9,300 lb), the M777 is 41% lighter than the 7,154 kg (15,772 lb) M198 howitzer it replaces. Much of the weight reduction is due to the extensive use of titanium. The M777 can be transported by helicopter sling-load, transporter aircraft such as the C-130, or towed by air-braked vehicles weighing over 2.5 tonnes (2.8 short tons), such as the FMTV and MTVR. The minimal gun crew required is five, compared to a previous nine.

K-9 Vajra, a self-propelled artillery gun

The M777 uses a digital fire-control system similar to that found on self-propelled howitzers such as the M109A6 Paladin to provide navigation, pointing and self-location, allowing it to be put into action quickly.

The Canadian M777 in conjunction with the traditional "glass and iron sights/mounts" also uses a digital fire control system called the Digital Gun Management System (DGMS) produced by Leonardo MW with components of the Indirect Fire Control Software Suite (IFCSS) built by the Firepower team in the Canadian Army Land Software Engineering Centre. The Leonardo MW portion of the system, known as LINAPS, had been proven previously through earlier fielding on the British ArmyRoyal Artillery's L118 Light Gun.

About K9 Vajra:

The K9 VAJRA-T 155mm/ 52 is a tracked self-propelled howitzer, which has its roots in the K9 Thunder, the mainstay of the South Korean Army. The Vajra offers a high rate of fire at a long range and is compatible with Indian and standard NATO ammunition.

The primary weapon of the K9 Thunder platform is the 155mm / 52 calibre gun. While the weapon platform has the ability to fire a standard M107 high-explosive (HE) projectile, no word is out about India specific changes, or if any have been made.

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