No big deals for Army since 2005

No big deals for Army since 2005

In what may be an endorsement of the Army’s  poor state of preparedness, the Defence Ministry on Monday admitted that the Army was devoid of big ticket military purchase since 2005.

The admission, however, was not direct. Responding to a question on offset, Defence Minister A K Antony annexed his question with a list of 17 offset contracts inked by the miistry since 2005. None, however, was meant for the Army.

As offsets are mandatory for every foreign purchase, the 17  contracts are the only purchases made from abroad  by the Defence Ministry since 2005, when the offset policy was introduced. In other words, procurement for the Army was restricted to domestic suppliers such as ordnance factories, defence public sector units and private industries.

With the defence minister admitting that level of indigenisation is limited to only 40 per cent, it is obvious that the Army failed to buy any significant military hardware from abroad as a part of its modernisation plan.

Army Chief Gen V K Singh in his letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh referred to the shortage of various gun systems, surveillance equipment and ammunition as key factors crippling the force’s preparedness.

Following the sensational letter, Antony approved two proposals of Rs 3000 crore each to purchase ultra light weight howitzer for mountain warfare and radars for air defence.

Few other high value deals are also in the offing.

Responding to a separate query, Antony said the Army had lost 38 field firing ranges in the last decade due to encroachment, wildlife conservation and spreading of human population. The Army used to have 104 field firing ranges a decade ago, but the number has now come down to 66.

While there were 12 foreign contracts for Indian Air Force  signed between 2007 and 2012, the Navy had only five contracts. The IAF deals include purchase of C-130J and C-17 aircraft from the USA, Harpy loitering ammunition from Israel, VVIP helicopters, upgrading of MiG-29 and Mirage 2000 as well as radar and electronic equipment. The total offset earned from 12 IAF deals stood at $ 3, 435, 483, 700.

For the Navy, major acquisitions involve fleet tanker, long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle. The total amount of offset generated is $ 843, 758, 600.

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