“Crip­pling de­lays in arms pro­cure­ment process”: MoD in­ter­nal re­port

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation & Defence in India -

In­dia’s De­fence Bud­get 2018-19

The Union Bud­get for the fi­nan­cial year 2018-19 pre­sented by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley in Par­lia­ment, has en­vis­aged a to­tal out­lay of Rs.24,42,213 crore, of which Rs 2,95,511.41 crore has been ear­marked for De­fence which ac­counts for 12.10 per­cent of the to­tal Cen­tral Govern­ment ex­pen­di­ture for the year. This al­lo­ca­tion rep­re­sents a growth of 7.81 per­cent over Bud­get Es­ti­mates (Rs 2,74,114.12 crore) and 5.91 per­cent over Re­vised Es­ti­mates (Rs. 2,79,003.85 crore), re­spec­tively for the fi­nan­cial year 2017-18. In per­cent­age terms, the new De­fence bud­get has marginally in­creased by only 7.81% which works out to just about 1.58% of the pro­jected GDP for 2018-19, “the low­est such fig­ure since the 1962 war with China”. Even as this fig­ure has been steadily de­clin­ing in per­cent­age terms as the econ­omy ex­pands, de­fence and strate­gic ob­servers opine that it should be over 2.5% to en­sure the armed forces are ca­pa­ble of tack­ling the “col­lu­sive threat” from Pak­istan and China.

En­hanc­ing De­fence Pro­duc­tion

In his Bud­get Speech 2018-19, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley, has an­nounced var­i­ous steps for en­hanc­ing in­dige­nous de­fence pro­duc­tion. These in­clude mea­sures to de­velop two De­fence In­dus­trial Cor­ri­dors in the coun­try and bring­ing out an ‘in­dus­try friendly’ De­fence Pro­duc­tion Pol­icy 2018 to pro­mote do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion by the pub­lic, pri­vate sec­tors and MSMEs. De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man, stated, “These are the first ever De­fence Pro­duc­tion Cor­ri­dors be­ing formed in the coun­try will give a big boost to de­fence pro­duc­tion in the coun­try.”

‘Make in In­dia’ in De­fence Sec­tor

Make in In­dia’ in the de­fence sec­tor, pri­mar­ily driven by cap­i­tal ac­qui­si­tion of de­fence equip­ment and other pol­icy mea­sures have been taken to pro­mote pro­duc­tion of ar­moured fight­ing ve­hi­cles, com­bat ve­hi­cles, com­bat air­craft, war­ships, weapons, am­mu­ni­tion, mis­siles, radars, elec­tronic war­fare sys­tems etc. “De­fence Re­search & De­vel­op­ment Organisation (DRDO), the Re­search wing of Min­istry of De­fence has been set up with a man­date of de­vel­op­ing ‘cut­ting’ edge tech­nolo­gies and sys­tems for In­dia’s Armed Forces as per their spe­cific Qual­i­ta­tive Re­quire­ments.”

An in­ter­nal re­port of the Min­istry of De­fence, widely re­ported by the me­dia has it that In­dia’s weapon ac­qui­si­tion process is “badly bro­ken and be­set with huge de­lays”. The re­port de­tailed that only some 8-10% of 144 pro­posed pro­grammes have fruc­ti­fied in the last three fi­nan­cial years. This scathing pre­sen­ta­tion, given by Min­is­ter of State for De­fence Sub­hash Bhamre as­serts that “the arms pro­cure­ment process is dogged by multiple and dif­fused struc­tures with no sin­gle-point ac­count­abil­ity, du­pli­ca­tion of pro­cesses, avoid­able re­dun­dant layers do­ing the same thing again and again, de­layed ex­e­cu­tion, no real-time mon­i­tor­ing and no project-based ap­proach, among other things.”

“The pre­sen­ta­tion said there is a ten­dency to find faults rather than to fa­cil­i­tate the process,” re­vealed a source. Con­se­quently, the en­tire ‘Make in In­dia’ pol­icy in the de­fence pro­duc­tion sec­tor con­tin­ues to lan­guish due to pro­ce­dural de­lays, with­out mov­ing for­ward in any con­crete man­ner. Cog­ni­sance should be taken of these “hard, un­com­fort­able facts” to en­sure “cor­rec­tives” are put in place, with proper re­spon­si­bil­ity and ac­count­abil­ity be­ing fixed, ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter. “From fight­ers, drones and he­li­copters to sub­marines, minesweep­ers and ar­tillery how­itzers, the armed forces con­tinue to grap­ple with ma­jor op­er­a­tional gaps ow­ing to the con­vo­luted pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dures and the lack of ad­e­quate moderni­sa­tion bud­gets in the face of bal­loon­ing pay and pen­sion bills.”

De­lays in Project P-75 II

Even eigh­teen months after an ex­ten­sion was granted by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil for Project P- 75 II, which in­volves the con­struc­tion of six diesel-elec­tric sub­marines at a cost of $10.9 bil­lion, nei­ther an In­dian ship­yard nor any for­eign orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­turer (OEM) has been se­lected “to get crack­ing on the project.” Six sub­marines planned to be con­structed as part of Project P-75 (I) have a dead­line com­ing up, even after the diese­l­elec­tric sub­ma­rine project have an ac­cep­tance of ne­ces­sity.

FICV project pro­ceeds

The De­fence Min­istry’s plan for a Fu­ture In­fantry Com­bat Ve­hi­cle (FICV) to re­place the In­dian Army’s Rus­sian-ori­gin BMP-2 in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cle in­ven­tory is pro­gress­ing. This mas­sive project cost­ing some of Rs 60,000 crore has been on hold for al­most a decade but has re­cently re­ceived ap­proval from the panel of in­de­pen­dent ex­pert mon­i­tors (IEMs). They have deemed that the eval­u­a­tion process for se­lect­ing firms to pro­duce pro­to­types of the FICV is “in or­der and could pro­ceed.” The MoD had ear­lier

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