Urgent arms deals of Rs 20,000 crore inked to keep forces ready
- India has inked a flurry of emergency deals for ammunition
- Over the last two to three months, deals worth around Rs 20,000 crore have been inked
- The aim is to guarantee the armed forces can undertake at least 10 days of “intense fighting” without worrying
India is finally taking steps to make its armed forces fighting fit. The country has inked a flurry of emergency deals for ammunition and spares worth around Rs 20,000 crore over the last two to three months to ensure its fighters and tanks, infantry and warships, are all ready to go to battle at short notice.
Defence ministry sources said the aim was to guarantee the armed forces can undertake at least 10 days of “intense fighting” without worrying about ammunition, spares and other reserves. The pace for concluding the new contracts, primarily with Russia, Israel and France, was set in motion after the terror attack in Uri on September 18.
Apart from launching massive fire assaults across the Line of Control and the “surgical strikes” on terror launch pads+ in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir on September 29, the government had also set-up empowered procurement committees+ under the Army, Navy and IAF vice-chiefs with emergency financial powers to “make up deficiencies” in stockpiles at the earliest, as was then reported by TOI.
The 2017-18 Budget may not have allocated much for new military modernisation projects, with the bulk of the Rs 86,488 crore capital outlay earmarked for “committed liabilities”, but the armed forces are gung-ho about the fast-track procedures now in place to ensure “serviceability and availability” of existing weapon systems and platforms.
The IAF+ , for instance, has concluded 43 contracts worth over Rs 9,200 crore for ammunition and spares for its fighters like Sukhoi-30MKIs, Mirage-2000s and MiG-29s, transport aircraft like IL-76s, mid-air refuellers like IL-78s and the Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems).
The Army has inked around 10 contracts worth over Rs 5,800 crore with Russian companies alone. These range from engines and 125mm APFSDS (armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot) ammunition for its T-90S and T-72 tanks to Konkurs anti-tank guided missiles and Smerch rockets.
“The emergency purchases will obviate the need for armed forces to present long shopping lists to the government after every major terror strike. They can now maintain operational readiness for different contingencies,” said the source. The new contracts for artillery, rockets, missiles, tank ammunition and the like come in the backdrop of the 1.3-million strong Army holding not even one-third of its authorised war wastage reserves (WWR) for 40 days of intense fighting,
As per operational norms, the WWR should be sufficient for 30 days of “intense” and 30 days of “normal” fighting. But the Army simply does not have such reserves. The CAG, incidentally, had also taken note of this alarming state of affairs in a report tabled in Parliament.