Following clashes between the Indian Army and Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops at the Galwan front in the eastern Ladakh region last year and continuing troop buildups on both sides of the disputed border region, the Indian Army has deployed mobile artillery units.
For the first time in history, the Indian Army has deployed the large artillery systems, Indian forces mobilized a K9-Vajra self-propelled howitzer regiment in the forward areas in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, the Times of India reported. The K9-Vajra howitzers were seen navigating the mountainous terrain in Ladakh with ease and at high speed during a series of military drills.
The KJ-9 Vajra is the latest and most advanced self-propelled artillery system in the Indian Army and have been domestically produced in India to the Army’s specifications. The 155mm/52 caliber self-propelled artillery guns are being made at the Armoured Systems Complex of Larsen and Toubro (L&T) in Gujarat as part of the military’s “Make in India” initiative.
Under the “Make in India” initiative, India is rapidly working towards self-reliance in its weapons development programs.
The latest K-9 guns were manufactured under license by L&T after they won the tender in 2017 for the ₹4,500-crore contract from the defense ministry to supply 100 units of K9-Vajra.
The Indian company has set up the facility in Hazira, around 30km from Surat. The defense ministry deal involves the delivery of 100 such systems in 42 months’ time. Before manufacturing domestically, the first ten of these artillery pieces were imported from Hanwha Techwin of South Korea in the semi-knocked downstate or incompletely disassembled kit and later were assembled by L&T in India. These massive guns weigh 50 tonnes and can fire 47 kg armed shells at a greater distance while being self-propelled and mobile on tracked wheels.
Since last year the Line of Actual Control region has seen massive military buildup by both sides, after a deadly clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers. At the helm of the Himalayas, the Indian army is a proven force at high altitude and mountainous warfare with making presence in the treacherous environment for decades without compromising stand.
India has been steadily deploying its frontal assets on the Chinese border in response to China’s military settlement on another side. Unlike the Line of Control (LOC) at the India-Pakistan border, the LAC was silent for many years until the last year when Chinese troops violated the ceasefire and emerged in the Indian region of Galwan resulting in a clash.