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Indian Army uncertain about Guns procurement

 

 
 
By Sangeeta Saxena Published: January 2012
 
 
 
   

New Delhi. The Indian Army is still bogged down by delays in the procurement of artillery guns.

 

Addressing his annual Army Day press conference, Chief of Army Staff Gen VK Singh said that somehow all efforts to acquire various guns over the past several years had failed. It was like a Snakes and Ladders game with no ladders.

“The procurement game is a version of snakes and ladders where there is no ladder but only snakes, and if the snakes bite you somewhere, the whole thing comes back to zero,” he said adding that he was hopeful of some guns to be cleared for acquisition shortly.

It was 25 years ago that the Indian Army had acquired Bofors guns from Sweden. There were allegations of payback of around Rs 64 crores. The gun had come with designs for production in India, with the much-needed Transfer of Technology, but its production was never undertaken by the designated public sector body, the Ordnance Factory Board.

Nonetheless, the Indian Army used the guns exceedingly well in the 1999 Kargil War to demolish fortified Pakistani army positions.

Bofors has since been sold several times to US and British companies.

There has also been a proposal to acquire 145 ultra light howitzers M777 from the BAE Systems’s US arm. But it is also stuck somewhere.

The Army has plans to buy four types of modern guns. Besides the US, French, British and Singapore companies have been in the race.

Said Gen Singh: “We have put in place a very comprehensive and a very well thought out plan by which both indigenous development, certain amount of acquisition and certain amount of joint ventures have been meshed together. So that in years to come we get out of this type of the problem.”

The Army Chief said that procurements worth about Rs 5000 crores (US$ one billion-plus) were on the anvil, and that gaps in equipment were being systematically filled.

He observed that appropriate steps towards transformation of the 1.1 million strong Army, to make it more responsive and lethal, were underway. Networking was one important area in that direction. Threats in both the western and northern fronts were on his agenda.

Gen Singh pointed out that transformation is not conceptual. “We are looking at structural changes in the strike corps. We have a proactive strategy in place.”

The overall focus is to develop our military capabilities, that can take care of the envisaged threats and challenges, which may manifest in the foreseeable future. The process entails optimisation of our operational preparedness and functional capabilities, through upgradation of our concepts and technologies as also reorganization and restructuring of our formations. The process will be suitably complemented by fielding, theatrised combat as well as logistic support systems,” he said, adding: “Our government has taken adequate steps, for large scale infrastructure development in our border areas, to meet the security requirements, as also improving the connectivity, to facilitate overall development of the border areas”

About jointness, the Army Chief said that “post the establishment of HQ IDS, the Indian Armed Forces, have embarked on the path to achieve it. Conceptualisation and promulgation of joint doctrines, including the visualisation of’Limited War against a Nuclear Backdrop, forms an important facet of our integrated approach.”

To a query about the breach in fencing along the Line of Control and International Border, the Army Chief said the fence had come up very recently but the troops have been protecting the boundaries and preventing infiltration for much longer time.

On being asked about confidence building measures with Myanmar he said,”Meetings between the two sides’ troops was happening at three levels. A regional committee has been proposed to be set up at border which will be headed by a three-star officer and will have members from the paramilitary, border guarding forces and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).”

Gen Singh said that the Army would like to avoid being sucked into anti-naxal operations. He said the involvement of the Indian Army in anti-naxal operations would make its adversaries happy. The Army Chief said in the various counter terrorist and counter insurgency operations undertaken by the Army in 2011, 11 officers, 8 JCOs and 46 men had lost their lives.

Enumerating the Army's achievements, Gen Singh said that it had contributed to 44 peacekeeping missions out of the 69 launched by UN. “We have deployed 7239 personnel in seven UN missions worldwide.

 
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