No ammunition for artillery guns of Indian Army

The shortfall is steadily on rise since 2009
Last Updated 10 May 2015, 18:52 IST

The booming guns of Indian Army run a risk of falling silent in a war situation because of critical shortage in ammunition.

According to a government audit, the deficiency is the maximum for high-calibre weapons like artillery guns and tanks.

The shortfall is steadily on the rise since 2009, when the audit began. In 2012, it was found that Army has only 10 days of stock for 84 per cent of the ammunition used by the artillery guns and tanks.

In 2011 and 2013, almost 65 per cent of these munitions had just 10 days of reserve.

“This suggests the seriousness of acute shortage in ammunition for sustaining superior fire power. The matter was brought to the notice of the defence ministry in June 2013, but the ministry did not offer any reply till April 2015,” the Comptroller and Auditor General says in its report tabled in the Parliament.

A leaked out letter by former Army Chief Gen V K Singh — the junior external affairs minister in the Narendra Modi government – to the former prime minister Manmohan Singh red-flagged the ammunition shortage issue, few years ago.

While the Army headquarters claimed time and again the ammunition shortfall issue was pointed out to the defence ministry and an all India availability of ammunition was also provide to the ministry, the Comptroller and Auditor General found no written communications from Army headquarters to the ministry.

“It indicated the absence of seriousness and the lack of priority by the Army headquarters,” the auditor says.

Ammunition stock
Going by the book, the Army is supposed to maintain a war wastage reserve of 40 days for its operational readiness. But to tide over the persistent shortfall, Army in 1999 came up with the concept of minimum acceptable risk level (MARL) for keeping ammunition stock at least for 20 days.
“Even after 15 years, the threshold of MARL could not be achieved. The acute shortage is impairing the operational readiness of the Army,” says the report.

Looking for an way to meet the shortfall, the Army barred use of several types of ammunition to varying degrees in the training.

There is complete prohibition in using 16 types of high and medium calibre weapons in the training.
Main cause

The failure of ordnance factories is one of the main causes in precipitating the crisis. A ammunition road map prepared by the ministry in July 2013 is of little value because no commercial contract was inked for 17 import cases (till December 2014) that was approved as a part of the

(Published 10 May 2015, 18:52 IST)

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