More reports on: Defence general

Army gets nod to buy munitions worth up to Rs40,000 cr

13 July 2017

The government has granted the Indian Army financial powers to procure ammunition and spares for 10 types of weapons systems and equipment. The move was made to facilitate the Army to maintain combat-readiness for wars which are expected to be short and intense.

The Army has already begun procurements to fill up critical deficiencies and enhance its capabilities to fight a "short, intense war" lasting 15-20 days, amid a protracted standoff with China, regular ceasefire violations by Pakistan and terrorist infiltrations.

The Centre has given emergency powers to the Army vice-chief to buy ammunition and armaments without needing sanctions that can cause delays. The move is expected to make the Army self-reliant and cut bureaucratic delays that can be a hindrance to enhancing military firepower critical to a short war.

With the new financial powers given, 46 types of ammunition for tanks and artillery guns, spares for 10 types of weapons, armaments and mines can be purchased that could cost up to Rs40,000 crore.

A notification issued by the government last week empowered Vice Chief of the Army to make hardware procurements up to this amount.

According to reports citing defence ministry sources, after the Uri terror attack, an internal audit was conducted to review Army's preparedness.

Though the Special Forces carried out 'surgical strikes' 10 days later, the audit exposed several lapses in Army's critical procurement in order to fight a short and intense war that would last up to 15 days.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during interactions with top military commanders last year, had said prospects of full-scale wars would be rare and future battles would be short and intense and need to be fought with clinical precision. Hence, soon after Uri attack, Army made emergency procurements worth Rs12,000 crore through 19 separate contracts - 11 of which were exclusively for ammunition and spares.

India is already the world's largest armaments buyer.

''With this notification, Army does not have to go through the Defence Acquisition Council or Cabinet Committee on Security. All purchases under the category of emergency procurement will be done at the office of the Vice Chief of Army,'' said a ministry official cited by The Indian Express.

The government feels the Army should be made self-sufficient to meet its own requirements, they said, adding that the Navy and Air Force would be given similar powers soon.

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