All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF) has written to the Defence Minister requesting to review its decision to buy South Korean howitzer guns instead of locally made Dhanush 155 mm Artillery Gun.
The request of AIDEF follows death of South Korean soldiers in an K-9 howitzer explosion during South Korean army's artillery training session, Newsclick reported Monday.
The AIDEF represents employees of several state-owned arms manufacturers in India.
The AIDEF said in its letter to Arun Jaitley that it failed to understand why the Dhanush Gun, which was indigenously developed by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was being sidelined by the Indian Army and the Ministry of Defence.
"The Government of India which is very keen about "indigenisation", "Make in India", "Level Playing Field" etc. should have taken a positive approach towards the indigenously built Dhanush - the 155 mm Artillery Gun, rather than purchasing the substandard Korean K-9 Gun which the Korean Army itself has reported to have rejected and refused to carry out further trials after two of its Soldiers were killed.” The letter added.
The letter further asked the government to intervene to reconsider the order placed to procure the South Korean gun through L&T, and to procure the indigenously developed Dhanush Artillery Gun from the Ordinance Factory Board after making necessary changes in the design.
Even the Korean media questioned the reliability of the self-propelled howitzer, a gun meant for firing shells on high trajectories, after the incident occurred during an artillery training session in Gangwon province on Friday.
Also five others were also injured in the explosion.
Private sector defence major Larsen & Toubro and South Korean firm Hanwha Techwin are in the process of executing a $720-million contract for supplying 100 K9 VAJRA-T guns to the Indian Army. The contract was signed on April 21, and the weaponry will be produced at Talegaon near Pune in Maharashtra. The guns are expected to be delivered in three years.
India's Ministry of Defence entered into a Rs 4,366 crore contract in April 2017 with L&T for the supply of 100 K-9 Howitzers in collaboration with Hanwha Techwin, the South Korean technology partner of L&T.