May 7, 2018

Ministry wants quick nod for arms-purchase proposals

The Defence Ministry has ordered expeditious clearance of pending proposals for acquisition of arms and ammunition for the Indian Army.

Following scathing criticism by a parliamentary panel, the Defence Ministry is “taking action over many critical acquisitions for the army, including bullet-proof jackets and latest weapons,” said official sources.

Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd (Midhani), a DPSU under the Department of Defence Production, had developed bullet-proof jackets made of steel. However, since it did not qualify, it was decided to arm the jackets with exclusive fibres such as aramid or ultra high molecular weight polyethylene.

However, sources said, the technology to manufacture the fabric was not available in the country, though the downstream technology to further process the fabric into material for the jacket is available in the Indian private sector. Since there are very few foreign manufacturers with the technology, Midhani has now initiated the process to acquire the technology to make the specialised fibre in the country, in collaboration with foreign companies.

Referring to an earlier RFP for procuring 1.86 lakh bullet-proof jackets, the sources said five companies had responded, each offering two models of the jacket.

After extensive evaluation, the government inked a ₹639-crore deal last month for procuring the bullet-proof jackets. The new jackets are to provide 360 degree protection to the soldier in combat, including from hard steel core bullets.

Capital acquisitions ::

Several contracts for capital acquisitions for the army were signed in 2016-17, the sources said. Eleven contracts for capital acquisitions were signed with both Indian and foreign vendors valued at ₹12,588.06 crore.

Artillery guns, missiles, rocket launcher system, simulator and ballistic helmets were among the equipment included for procurement. During the same period, acceptance of necessity was accorded to eight capital procurement cases.

Of this, four cases were under the ‘Buy Indian’ category at a cost of ₹16,469.14 crore, and two cases were under the ‘Buy Indian IDDM’ category at a cost of ₹1,684.13 crore.

Howitzer deal ::

In the case of artillery guns, the government has approved the acquisition of new artillery guns through five procurement cases that also involve indigenous production, the sources said. An LOA (Letter of Offer and Acceptance) was signed with the US government to procure 145 Ultra Light Howitzers of 155mm/39 calibre through the foreign military sales route.

While another contract has been signed with L&T for 100 Tracked Self Propelled Guns of 155mm/52 calibre, an indent has also been placed by the Defence Ministry to acquire 114 electronically upgraded gun system from the Ordinance Factory Board, Kolkata.

Officials said a case for procurement of 400/1180 towed gun system and another case for upgrading of 130 mm guns to 155 mm guns are at a trial stage.


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