India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has completed price negotiations with the Indian private-sector company Larsen & Toubro (L&T) for the supply of 100 modified South Korean K-9 self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) for around USD750 million.
Industry sources said the tender for the K-9 Vajra (Thunderbolt), which is an L&T-modified version of Samsung Techwin's K-9 155 mm/52-calibre tracked SPH produced under a collaborative agreement, will now go to the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for approval before being signed.
The option for an additional 50 K-9s is to be included in the contract, which is likely to be signed before the end of the current financial year, in March 2017.
The 47-tonne K-9 SPHs, which are being procured for the Indian Army under the 'Buy Global' category of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), would be built at L&T's Talegaon plant near Pune in western India as part of a joint venture (JV) with Samsung.
However, the SPH's supplementary K-10 munitions supply vehicle, built on the K-9 platform, is not part of the tender.
L&T sources said the SPHs would include 50% indigenous content. This would involve fabricating the K-9's hull and turret structure and locally developing 14 sub-systems such as the fire control and communication systems.
In service with South Korea, Poland and Turkey, the K-9 was shortlisted in trials in early 2014 that featured Russia's MSTA-S 152 mm SPH upgraded to a 155 mm/45-cal standard.
Powered by a German-designed MTU MT881 Ka 500 V8 water-cooled 1,000 hp diesel engine coupled to a fully automatic US-origin Allison transmission system, the K-9 is operated by a crew of five.
Capable of firing various projectiles with strike ranges of between 18 and 40 km, the K-9 has an operational range of 450 km, while its hydro-pneumatic tracked suspension and high ground clearance ensure good mobility across rough terrain.