India Allows Local Army Unit to Procure Arms, Ammunition for Short War
In a major change to the country's procurement policy, the Indian Defense Ministry has authorized its regional command unit to purchase arms and ammunition required for a short and intense war.
New Delhi (Sputnik) – The prevailing practice is that the Army has to wait for the Defense Acquisition Council's decision for such purchases, which is a time-consuming process. Now, the vice-chief of army staff can order 46 kinds of ammunition, spares for 10 weapons platforms like infantry combat vehicles through the emergency purchase route. The step has been taken to make up for the major gap in the availability of critical arms and ammunitions required for an intense war of 10-15 days.
The ammunition and spares shortfall was revealed in an internal audit the Indian Army conducted after the Uri military base camp attack by terrorists last year that left 19 soldiers dead.
"After giving serious consideration, the government has authorized vice-chief of army staff to issue an order for emergency purchases. There is no pre-determined cap on spending. Local unit chief is free to purchase required ammunition for war wastage reserve," defense sources said.
India currently imports nearly 50% of its ammunition requirements by value term, with an annual spending of more than $1.5 billion on ammunition. Due to shortcomings of state-owned ordnance factories, the Indian Armed Forces face severe shortage of ammunition which were highlighted by the Comptroller and Auditor General, the autonomous auditor, in its several reports. In 2015, one of such reports pointed that the mandatory war wastage reserve of ammunition, which should be 40 days, is only available for 10 percent of ammunition.
"It is a very positive step. It will help to quickly make up existing deficiencies. It will also reduce the time frame from RFI/RFP stage to delivery of contracted stores. In the long run, it will help to reduce stocking levels as replenishments will be quicker," Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retired) told Sputnik.
Earlier this year, India's Defense Ministry had floated a tender for private ammunition makers in India to supply ammunition worth $3 billion over the next decade. The demand list includes 125mm armor-piercing types for T-90 & T-72, 40mm multiple grenade launcher/underbarrel grenade launcher ammo, 30mm ammunition used by armored infantry carrying vehicle, 122mm grad rockets for Pinaka series and bi-modular charge system.
Last year, following a series of terrorists attack on military camps, the Indian Army had purchased arms and ammunition worth more than $2 billion from countries like Israel and Russia.
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