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Short On Critical Ammo, Indian Army Desperately Reaches Out To The Private Sector

Private sector will be allowed to export ordnance with minor controls.

27/03/2017 9:13 PM IST | Updated 27/03/2017 9:16 PM IST
Danish Ismail / Reuters
Indian army recruits wearing their ceremonial uniform perform a salute as they pose before their passing out parade at a garrison in Rangreth.

Saddled with a huge shortfall of critical ammunition, the Indian army is reaching out to the private sector.

It desperately needs ammunition for tanks, armoured personnel carrier, artillery. Till recently, the government owned Ordnance Factory Boards (OFB) and imports from the foreign countries were the only source for the Indian Army.

Top sources told HuffPost India that the Indian army asked the private sector whether it produces, among others, 125 mm Armour Piercing Fin Stabilizing Discarding Sabot's - ordnance to destroy tanks. The army needs at least 20,000 pieces of such ammunition every year for the next decade. It also needs about 500,000, 23mm High Explosive shells for its armoured personnel carriers every year for the next decade.

The Indian Army also needs over 100,000 pieces of various kinds of fuses for its artillery every year. "Bi-Modular Fuses are produced by OFB but these aren't effective for longer ranges," a senior official said. He added that the Indian Army has been importing these.

Apart from quality issues, OFBs have a limited capacity too. And are therefore are unable to produce the quantities required by the Indian Army.

To help the private sector to recover the sunk in cost for producing the ordnance, the government will allow them export the products with minor controls.

Top Indian Army sources said that about 25 Indian companies have responded. The companies are free to form their own joint ventures with the foreign vendors to source technology and know-how.

India continues to be the world's largest importer of major arms. It imports more than China and Pakistan, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, (SIPRI) said in its recent report.

The (SIPRI) in its report said, India accounted for at least 13% of the total global arms import between 2012–16 - the highest among all the countries.

In contrast to India, China has been increasingly depending on indigenously made defence platforms products. India is dependent on weapons technology from Russia, the US, Europe, Israel and South Korea, the report said.

Prime Minister Modi's flagship programme "Make in India" has a special focus on defence manufacturing. The aim is gradually to produce complicated defence platforms like fighters and submarines. Although manufacturing ordnance doesn't require the same kind of technical expertise, it will help in creating a "eco-system," in defence manufacturing, senior officers said.

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