New Delhi: Engineering conglomerate Larsen and Toubro inked a deal with South Korean defense major Hanwha Techwin (HTW) on Friday to jointly manufacture over 100 self- propelled howitzers for Indian Army at a cost of nearly Rs 4,500 crore.
The first batch of the 155mm/52 Cal Tracked Self Propelled (SP) gun - K9 VAJRA-T - will be delivered later this year and the entire supply will be made within a span of 42 months.
While 10 guns will be directly brought from South Korea, 90 will be manufactured in L&T's Strategic Systems Complex in Talegaon near Pune.
The K9 VAJRA-T gun is an enhanced version of HTW's K9 Thunder which is known as one of the best performing self- propelled howitzers in the world.
At a function to sign the deal, South Korea's minister for defense acquisition Chang Myoung Jin said his country would like to significantly expand defense ties with India as envisaged during prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to Seoul in 2015.
"Today, we have taken our defense partnership to a new high," he said.
Jayant Patil, head of defense and aerospace at L&T, said the program has set a new benchmark in co-development and co-production of defense systems by Indian private sector defense players and foreign majors.
"This contract marks an important milestone in L&T's defense business journey and in our relationship with Hanwha Techwin. It will create synergies not only for this program but also for upcoming Indian and global programs," said Patil.
He did not rule out exporting K9 VAJRA-T to other countries.
L&T also has initiated the process for setting up a greenfield manufacturing line at Gujarat's Hazira to produce K9 VAJRA-T guns.
Patil said L&T will not only manufacture K9 VAJRA-T in India, with over 50 percent indigenous content, but also provide life support to the army with the weapon.
L&T said the contract is a result of nearly a decade long close relationship and joint efforts of the two companies on the program, through extensive user evaluation and field trials followed by contract negotiations with the Ministry of Defense.
Addressing the gathering, South Korean envoy Cho Hyun said a new government will assume charge in South Korea by early May and hoped defense ties between India and his country will deepen further.