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07 Oct 15. Belgium, Netherlands join NATO smart ammo purchasing group.
Belgium and the Netherlands have joined a Denmark-led group of allies that aims to jointly buy smart ammunition from the United States.
“I am convinced that successful co-operation in this area will, in time, lead to more co-operation in other areas,” Belgian Defence Minister Steven Vandeput said on 8 October at the letter of intent signing at NATO headquarters. A formal memorandum of understanding could follow “very quickly”.
The smart ammo initiative was launched at NATO’s September 2014 summit in Wales. The Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Portugal, and Spain are the other members of the group. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
06 Oct 15. Samsung-L&T Win Rs 4,800-crore Artillery Contract. Indian engineering major Larsen & Toubro (L&T), in partnership with Korea’s Samsung Techwin (STW), has bagged a Rs 4,875-crore ($750m) order for supplying the Indian Army with 100 self-propelled (SP), tracked howitzers. Business Standard has learnt the defence ministry has written to L&T and STW informing them that their gun – called the K-9 Vajra – has cleared army trials conducted in 2013 and 2014. Simultaneously, the ministry has written to the other vendor in contention, Russia’s arms export agency, Rosoboronexport (RoE), rejecting the gun it offered, the 2S19 MSTA howitzer.
The K-9 Vajra consist of a 155-mm, 52-calibre howitzer, mounted on a tracked vehicle. It is highly mobile and can keep up with tank columns in the open desert. The Indian army wants this gun for its mechanized strike corps, which launches rapid thrusts deep into enemy territory. The strike corps’ T-90S tanks currently outpace their artillery guns, which are towed by wheeled vehicles. This constrains the tank spearheads to fight without artillery support at key moments in the advance. With the K-9 Vajra mounted on a tracked vehicle that keeps up with tanks, the armour spearheads would be assured of heavy fire support.
The contract falls under the “Buy Global” category of procurement, which provides for over-the-counter sales of ready-built defence equipment. Despite that, STW has partnered L&T to ensure that a full 50 per cent of the weapon system is built in India. L&T plans to build 13 major sub-systems of the K-9 Vajra at its facilities in Pune, Talegaon and Powai. This includes the fire control system, ammunition handling system, muzzle velocity radar, and the nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) system.
With the acquisition subject to 30 per cent offset liability, the high percentage of domestic manufacture meets that requirement easily. The exact cost of the deal is still unknown, since the commercial bid submitted by STW and L&T has not yet been opened. However, STW-L&T are the only ones remaining of the four companies that originally bid: Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), Tata Power, RoE and STW-L&T.
The first two didn’t make it to the trial stage, while RoE failed to meet the army’s requirements during trials. The army requires at least three K-9 Vajra regiments for each of its three armoured divisions, and another regiment for each of the independent armoured brigades in the three strike corps. The eventual requirement, therefore, is of 12 regiments of tracked SP guns, ie, 252 K-9 Vajra systems.
That suggests supplementary purchases of the K-9 Vajra would take the order up from the initial Rs 5,000 crore for 100 guns, to at least Rs 12,500 crore. The vendors would continue reaping benefits from maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade of the gun through its 30-40 year service lifetime.
L&T has pursued its relationship with STW strategically, ever since the two sides struck up a partnership in 2007. Noting that the Samsung gun’s turret fired only a single type of high-explosive ammunition, against India’s requirement of mu