Defence ministry sources said that seven types of ammunition have been identified for procurement from private suppliers as part of ‘Make in India’.
The defence ministry has, for the first time, mooted a proposal to allow private manufacturers to produce specialist ammunition for the army. The proposal, worth around Rs 800 crore, is now waiting for the decision on the number of years for which a firm commitment will be given to the private supplier.
The armed forces currently source specialist ammunition either from Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) or through imports. As per the CAG report placed in Parliament in May, OFB had failed to supply the army with the targeted quantity, leading to shortfalls in supplying up to 73 per cent of the total types of ammunition. Moreover, in imports, no procurement of ammunition took place against the nine items initiated for procurement through capital route from 2008 to 2013. CAG had also warned that as of March 2013, half of the 170 types of ammunition held would not last 10 days of war fighting, a “critical” situation, and 74 per cent were not enough for 20 days of war fighting. As per policy, army is supposed to maintain its ammunition reserves for 40 days of intense war fighting, with 20 days reserves being ‘Minimum Acceptable Risk Level’.
Defence ministry sources said that seven types of ammunition have been identified for procurement from private suppliers as part of ‘Make in India’. This includes specialist ammunition for tanks and artillery guns, GRAD BM-21 charges and electronic fuses; none of them are currently being manufactured in India.
At the hearing on the CAG report with the Parliamentary Accounts Committee in June, the ministry had assured the MPs that barring one item, they are confident of overcoming “critical” level for all types of ammunition by 2016. That assurance was based on the plans to get private suppliers to produce these critical types of ammunition.
“This will create another indigenous source of specialist ammunition for us, over and above ordnance factories and import route. It will help us quickly make up critical deficiencies,” said a defence ministry official.
At least four private firms have expressed interest in producing specialist ammunition in India and are awaiting the issue of RFI. But the proposal has been delayed because private suppliers will need a long-term commitment – of around five years — from the defence ministry to set up production.