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The Union Defence Ministry and the Army are finalising a Rs 15,000 crore long-term plan to get the domestic private sector to manufacture 7 different type of ammunition, media reported on Sunday.
The conventional norm is that Armed forces should have adequate the war wastage reserves (WWR) to last 40 days of “intense fighting”, however, the ammunition stocks of the Indian Armed Forces would not last even 10 days of “intense fighting”.
The goal is to develop capability in private sector companies, which can set up joint ventures with foreign manufacturers, so as to bridge the gaps in requirement and production capacity of the Ordnance Factory Board's 41 factories.
“This indigenization of ammunition production over a 10-year time-frame will gradually reduce our heavy import dependence,” said a senior official to TOI.
In the wake of the Uri terror attack in September 2016, it was discovered that the 13-lakh strong Army did not have certain categories of ammunition required for a full-blown war with “intense fighting” for 10 days.
Since then, around Rs 24,000 crore worth of contracts for ammunition, spares, engines and other reserves are being finalised, mostly with Russia and Israel.
Meanwhile, the new Rs 15,000 crore plan aims to have Indian private sector industry manufacture ammunition for infantry weapons like UBGLs (under-barrel grenade launchers) and AGLs (automatic grenade launchers), 122mm Grad rockets, electronic fuzes and bi-modular charge systems for the artillery, and 30mm high-explosive incendiary ammunition for BMP-II infantry combat vehicles.
“The bids of 11 Indian private companies for these contracts to produce some initial quantities of ammunition were opened last month. The technical evaluation is now underway,” said the official.
The contracts worth Rs 15,000 crore will be awarded over the next 10 years as the selected companies develop the capability to produce the required ammunition.
According to Army vice-chief Lt-General Sarath Chand, the Army is grappling with an alarming mix of 8% (state-of-the-art), 24% (current) and 68% (vintage) weaponry in its arsenal despite being engaged in daily cross-border firing with Pakistan and heightened tensions with China.