After the move of the erst­while De­fence Min­is­ter,

SP's LandForces - - LEAD STORY -

Manohar Par­rikar to Goa as the Chief Min­is­ter, an in­terim in­ac­tive pe­riod of about six months of dual-hat­ted ten­ure of Arun Jait­ley, fol­lowed. Nirmala Sithara­man took over as the De­fence Min­is­ter on Septem­ber 3, 2017. The grav­ity of the greately weak­ened op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity of the army, seemed to have dawned upon the new de­fence min­is­ter. This was es­pe­cially galling in view of the army’s con­tin­ued in­volve­ment in day to day counter ter­ror­ist and counter in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions in Jammu and Kash­mir and in the North­east with out­dated small arms. Ad­di­tion­ally there is a shadow of con­ven­tional con­flict con­fronting the na­tion even though it may be con­fined in the form of bor­der wars on two widely sepa- rated fronts. Thus see­ing the writ­ing on the wall, the Min­is­ter re­acted with a num­ber of DAC clear­ances, in re­spect of Small Arms of the Army. Th­ese clear­ances how­ever will not af­fect the ground sit­u­a­tion for the next few years and if the Po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship does not pro­vide the nec­es­sary push for­ward, the clear­ances will re­main on pa­per only.

Par­lia­men­tary Panel Says Army Dis­sat­is­fied with Lack of Funds

De­spite clear­ances the pro­cure­ment process is by it­self in­or­di­nately lengthy and in any case if the Army has no funds even for im­ple­ment­ing the schemes al­ready planned, how would ad­di­tional clear­ances help? It is in this con­text that this years Par­lia­men­tary Panel re­port tabled on March 13, 2018, be­comes im­por­tant and rel­e­vant. In ef­fect the Army Vice Chief in­formed the par­lia­men­tary stand­ing com­mit­tee on de­fence, that the bud­get al­lo­cated this year (FY 2018-19) has dashed all hopes for mod­erni­sa­tion and its plans to roll out ‘Make in In­dia’ projects. He said that funds al­lo­cated this year will not even be ad­e­quate to pay for the in­stal­ments of past pur­chases. The Vice Chief told the panel that the al­lo­ca­tion of 21,338 crore for mod­erni­sa­tion was in­suf­fi­cient even to cater for com­mit­ted li­a­bil­ity of 29,033 crore for 123 on-go­ing schemes, emer­gency pro­cure­ments and other re­quire­ments. He also clar­i­fied that most of the equip­ment army holds, cur­rently, can be cat­e­gorised as vin­tage (in ac­tual terms, ob­so­lete). He said that modern Armed Forces should have one-third of its equip­ment in the vin­tage cat­e­gory, one-third in the cur­rent cat­e­gory and one-third in the state of the art cat­e­gory. As far as the Indian Army is con­cerned, 68 per cent of the equip­ment is in the vin­tage cat­e­gory, with just about 24 per cent in the cur­rent, and eight per cent in the state of the art cat­e­gory.

It was brought out the to­tal ad­di­tional re­quire­ment of funds by the army un­der the head Cap­i­tal is 12,296 crore and Rev­enue is 9,282 crore which to­tals to 21,578 crore.

Army Chief Gen­eral Bipin Rawat, who was speak­ing at a sem­i­nar after the Army’s re­port to the par­lia­men­tary panel be­came pub­lic, made a case for in­creased spend­ing on de­fence, link­ing it to China’s rise and as­sert­ing that mil­i­tary spend­ing is not a bur­den to the na­tion.

What Ails the Min­istry of De­fence?

If one was to ask what ails the MoD and why is the mod­erni­sa­tion process so slow even while the me­dia is con­stantly re­port­ing the large num­ber of projects be­ing sanc­tioned by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC) and the Cab­i­net and yet there are no changes on the ground. The an­swer lies in the com­pli­cated process of pro­cure­ment, the gen­er­ally neg­a­tive at­ti­tude of the bu­reau­cracy in the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) and among the bu­reau­crats in the Fi­nance Min­istry, the risk averse at­ti­tude of the mil­i­tary, and last but not the least the lack of funds to take for­ward the schemes. Common sense on the part of the plan­ners should in­di­cate the ne­ces­sity of al­lo­cat­ing a cer­tain min­i­mum amount to equip and main­tain a force equivalent to 40 Di­vi­sions of army (a divi­sion gen­er­ally com­prises 15,000 per­son­nel apart from vary­ing cat­e­gories and types of weapon systems, ve­hi­cles and equip­ment), 44 Squadron Air Force (IAFs as­pi­ra­tions) and 140 Ships Navy (as­pi­ra­tion of the Indian Navy). With a de­fence bud­get of less than 1.5 per cent of the GDP how does the government in­tend to achieve this? Thus the mod­erni­sa­tion of the ser­vices is well be­hind the sched­ule and at this pace and level of al­lo­ca­tion of funds, it will never see the light of the day.

In this ar­ti­cle we are fo­cus­ing on equip­ment is­sues con­cern­ing the mod­erni­sa­tion of the Army.

Up­date on Some Im­por­tant Projects

An up­date on some of the ma­jor equip­ment projects planned, which are in var­i­ous stages of de­vel­op­ment/pro­cure­ment is given in the suc­ceed­ing para­graphs.

As­sault Ri­fles

In Septem­ber 2015, the MoD ter­mi­nated its 2011 ten­der to im­port 66,000 multi-cal­i­bre as­sault ri­fles as none of the four com­pet­ing mod­els qual­i­fied. Thus the Indian Army has re-launched its quest for an im­ported as­sault ri­fle, after re­cently re­ject­ing the lo­cally de­signed op­tion, in or­der to plug a vi­tal op­er­a­tional gap. The Army has once again sent out its global re­quest for in­for­ma­tion (RFI) for 7.62 x 51mm as­sault ri­fles after re­ject-

ing DRDO-de­signed Ex­cal­ibur 5.56 x 45mm ri­fle. The Ex­cal­ibur is an up­graded ver­sion of the DRDO’s Indian Small Arms Sys­tem (IN­SAS) 5.56 x 45mm ri­fle that en­tered ser­vice with the Indian Army in the mid-1990s, but was re­jected by it in 2010, for be­ing ‘op­er­a­tionally in­ad­e­quate’. The Army Com­man­ders Con­fer­ence in New Delhi in April 2016, has unan­i­mously opted to im­port the more pow­er­ful 7.62 x 51mm ri­fle for its in­fantry bat­tal­ions and its 100 odd coun­terin­sur­gency units (both Rashtriya Ri­fles and As­sam Ri­fles). Thus 72,000 As­sault ri­fles are to be pro­cured on “fast track” ba­sis and 7,40,000 as­sault ri­fles on the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ are now planned as noted above in the ap­proval of Jan­uary 6, 2018 and Fe­bru­ary 13, 2018 re­spec­tively.

Army Chief Gen­eral Bipin Rawat, who was speak­ing at a sem­i­nar, made a case for in­creased spend­ing on de­fence, link­ing it to China’s rise and as­sert­ing that mil­i­tary spend­ing is not a bur­den to the na­tion


The MoD was in the process of fi­nal­is­ing the out­come of the 2010 ten­der for 44,618, 5.56mm close quar­ter bat­tle (CQB) car­bines, tri­als for which con­cluded in 2013. Is­rael Weapon In­dus­tries (IWI) ACE car­bine was short­listed over the Ital­ian ri­val Beretta’s ARX-160 model, but over the past few months the con­tract ran into pro­ce­dural prob­lems and has been scrapped on Septem­ber 29, 2016. The army has been op­er­at­ing with­out a car­bine since 2010. As per the lat­est ap­provals 93,895 car­bines are to be pro­cured on ‘fast track’ ba­sis and 3,50,000 lakh car­bines un­der ‘Buy and Make’ (Indian) cat­e­gory as per DAC ap­provals given on Jan­uary 16 and Fe­bru­ary 28, 2018, re­spec­tively.

Sniper Ri­fles and Light Ma­chine Guns

The DAC has ap­proved pro­cure­ment of 5,719 Sniper Ri­fles for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force at an es­ti­mated cost of 982 crore. While th­ese high pre­ci­sion weapons will be bought with ‘Buy Global’ cat­e­gori­sa­tion, the am­mu­ni­tion for th­ese will be ini­tially pro­cured and sub­se­quently man­u­fac­tured in In­dia. Ap­proval has also been ac­corded for the pro­cure­ment of 41,000 Light Ma­chine Guns. The to­tal cost for pro­cure­ment of Car­bines and LMGs for the sol­diers of the three Ser­vices is 4,607 crore and 3,000 crore re­spec­tively.

Artillery Fire­power

As part of its artillery mod­erni­sa­tion plan, the army is look­ing at in­duct­ing sev­eral types of how­itzers through in-house man­u­fac­ture by DRDO/Ord­nance Fac­tory Board, in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal pacts and global ten­ders. The last ma­jor ac­qui­si­tion of towed gun-how­itzers was that of 400 pieces of 39-cal­i­bre 155mm FH-77B how­itzers with a range of 30 km from Bo­fors of Swe­den in 1987. This gun proved its met­tle in the Kargil con­flict. After about 25 years of ne­glect at­tempts are now afoot to ful­fil its long­post­poned 1999 Field Artillery Ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion Plan (FARP), un­der which the army aims to im­port, lo­cally develop, and li­cen­ce­pro­duce some 2,820 to 3,000 as­sorted 155mm how­itzers to equip its artillery reg­i­ments for an es­ti­mated $8-9 bil­lion. Th­ese in­clude 1,580 towed gun systems (TGS), 814 mounted gun systems (MGS), 100 self­pro­pelled how­itzers (SPHs) — all of which are 155mm/52-cal­i­bre — and 145 BAE Systems M777 155mm/39-cal­i­bre ul­tra light­weight how­itzers. Lo­cally up­graded and retro­fit­ted guns will make up ad­di­tional num­bers. While many projects are afoot, none has fruc­ti­fied.

South Korean Self Pro­pelled How­itzers (SPH),

an L&T ver­sion of Sam­sung Tech­win’s K9 Thun­der 155mm/52-cal­i­bre gun was cus­tomised for In­dia’s 2012 SPH ten­der. In De­cem­ber 2015 the MoD be­gan price ne­go­ti­a­tions with Larsen & Toubro (L&T) for 100 mod­i­fied, worth around $800 mil­lion. The K9 Va­jra-T, was short­listed for ac­qui­si­tion in late Septem­ber 2015 fol­low­ing tri­als the pre­vi­ous year. In th­ese the K9

bested Rus­sia’s MSTA-S self-pro­pelled gun. How­ever tri­als with indigenous am­mu­ni­tion have not proved suc­cess­ful so far. In the towed cat­e­gory of how­itzers, France’s Nex­ter Systems, with its Tra­jan 155mm/52-cal­i­bre how­itzer mod­i­fied for the Indian ten­der of 2011-12, and El­bit of Is­rael’s ATHOS 2052 gun were re­quired to un­dergo the sup­ple­men­tary tri­als from mid-2015 after com­plet­ing desert and high­alti­tude fir­ings in 2013-14. The army plans to ac­quire 400 guns un­der the De­fence Procur­ment Pro­ce­dure’s (DPP) ‘Buy and Make’ cat­e­gory and li­cence-build the re­main­ing 1,180 towed how­itzers.

The im­port of 145, M777s was ap­proved in May 2015 by the MoD. M777 is a 155mm ul­tra light how­itzer, and is be­ing im­ported along with Selex Laser In­er­tial Artillery Point­ing Systems (LINAPS) via the US for­eign mil­i­tary sales (FMS) pro­gramme. The DAC ap­proval was given once again on June 25, 2016 but till to date there is no change in the ground sit­u­a­tion. The M777 pur­chase is to equip the army’s 17 Mountain Strike Corps, which is presently be­ing raised for de­ploy­ment along the dis­puted bor­der with China. Two guns which have reached In­dia are be­ing used by the Army for mak­ing range ta­bles with indigenous am­mu­ni­tion. One gun has been dam­aged ap­par­ently due to faulty am­mu­ni­tion and un­der the cir­cum­stances the in­duc­tion is likely to get de­layed. The orig­i­nal in­duc­tion sched­ule in­cludes five guns per month from March on­wards till all 145 are in­ducted by June 2021.

Ord­nance Fac­to­ries Board (OFB) had been tasked to pro­duce a 45-cal­i­bre/155mm how­itzer based on the trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy (ToT) ob­tained from Bo­fors in the 1980s. The DAC ap­proved a pro­posal from the OFB to man­u­fac­ture 144 pieces of 155mm/45cal­i­bre how­itzers with the op­tion to ac­quire an­other 400 pro­vided the pro­to­types suc­cess­fully meet the army’s GSQR in user tri­als. DRDO De­signed ATGS 155 mm, 52 Cal­i­bre How­itzer has given its go-ahead by the Army after see­ing the per­for­mance of the weapon. Ad­di­tions or im­prove­ments to the gun en­vis­aged by the Army can be in­cor­po­rated in later ver­sions. So we can see that while many projects for en­hanc­ing our artillery fire­power are afoot, noth­ing has ma­te­ri­al­ized on the ground till date.


Presently the army is hard put to main­tain its cur­rent fleet of Ar­jun Mk1 tanks be­cause of lack of spares. The Ar­jun tank is indigenous in name only be­cause a large num­ber of its systems and parts amount­ing to about 60 per cent are still im­ported.

Ar­jun Mark II tank de­vel­op­ment of with a large num­ber of im­prove­ments has com­menced and some tech­ni­cal tri­als in­cor­po­rat­ing the im­prove­ments have been car­ried out in Ra­jasthan. How­ever, the ab­nor­mally high weight of 68 tonnes plus, would now de­mand new tank trans­porters and new railway rolling stock. Th­ese facts to­gether with the un­suc­cess­ful tri­als of fir­ing the anti-tank mis­sile through the main gun of the tank have held up the develop- ment and de­liv­ery of the Ar­jun Mk II. Ad­di­tional prob­lems are likely to be en­coun­tered in pro­duc­tion of spares by an­cil­lary units due to the rel­a­tively small or­der of the tanks (118) for the army. Fur­ther de­lay is ex­pected in se­ries man­u­fac­ture of the Ar­jun Mk II.

T-90 Tanks have been in­ducted in fairly large num­bers in the army. As per me­dia re­ports the army’s to­tal re­quire­ment is 1,657 T-90S tanks. To en­hance its strike ca­pa­bil­ity, the Army is now work­ing on a project to add more teeth to its T-90 main bat­tle tanks by arm­ing them with a third gen­er­a­tion mis­sile sys­tem. The sources said the third gen­er­a­tion mis­sile should achieve a depth of pen­e­tra­tion of 800-850mm and will be ca­pa­ble of hit­ting tar­gets up to a range of 8 km in day as well as night. Cur­rently, the T-90 tanks are equipped with a laser guided IN­VAR mis­sile sys­tem. The fu­ture mis­siles, to be fired from the 125mm gun bar­rels of T-90 tanks, will be able to hit tar­gets by tak­ing a pre-flight pro­grammed ma­noeu­vres. The mis­siles should be ca­pa­ble of fir­ing against mobile as well as static tar­gets.

The Army is also work­ing on a sep­a­rate project to in­stall a mo­du­lar en­gine for the T-90 tanks so as to en­hance their strike ca­pa­bil­ity in high-alti­tude bat­tle field. The pro­posed mo­du­lar en­gine for T-90 tanks is en­vis­aged to have a vari­able power out­put of 1200- 1500 HP to cater to high bat­tle field agility.

The T-72 M 1 mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme un­der Project Rhino is in­or­di­nately de­layed. This was in­tended to ex­tend the ser­vice life of the MBT by 20 years; en­hance their ac­cu­racy with new fire con­trol sys­tem (FCS) whose tri­als have been com­pleted and some units have re­ceived the new fire con­trol systems. How­ever, when all the mod­i­fi­ca­tions will be com­pleted is not known.

Fu­ture Com­bat Ve­hi­cle Pro­grammes Fu­ture In­fantry Com­bat Ve­hi­cle (FICV)

pro­gramme which was ini­ti­ated in 200809 but aban­doned three years later, was res­ur­rected once again in 2014. The FICV project is a ‘test case’ for In­dia’s indigenous weapon-de­sign­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.

The De­fence Min­istry’s Ex­pres­sion of In­ter­est (EoI), which in­vited ten com­pa­nies on July 16, 2015, to sub­mit proposals to develop the FICV un­der the ‘Make’ pro­ce­dure, spec­i­fied that two de­vel­op­ment agen­cies would be cho­sen. How­ever, even as that com­pet­i­tive se­lec­tion was un­der­way, the Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) was in­cluded ad­di­tion­ally.

With some crit­i­cal tech­nolo­gies re­lated to the project slated to be sourced from for­eign firms and global de­fence ma­jors like Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics, Lock­heed Martin, BAE Systems, and Rhein­metall eye­ing the deal, the de­fence min­istry, is con­sid­er­ing push­ing the deal un­der the Strate­gic Part­ner­ship Pol­icy (SPP).

The bids are from five pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies that have tech­nol­ogy tie-ups with over­seas ven­dors and the OFB. They will de­sign and build 2,610 tracked, am­phibi­ous and air-trans­portable 20-tonne FICVs to re­place the army’s age­ing fleet of Rus­sian BMP-2/2K Sarath ICVs un­der the DPP’s ‘Make (Indian)’ cat­e­gory.

MoD has ap­pointed a 10-mem­ber In­te­grated Project Man­age­ment Team (IPMT), headed by a two-star army gen­eral who will eval­u­ate the bids and short­list two de­vel­op­ment agen­cies (DA) that will build one FICV pro­to­type each within 24-36 months.

The FICV is an am­bi­tious ef­fort to in­dige­nously de­sign and man­u­fac­ture a fu­tur­is­tic in­fantry ve­hi­cle by the pri­vate in­dus­try by rop­ing in for­eign Orig­i­nal Equip­ment Man­u­fac­tur­ers.

The Fu­ture Ready Com­bat Ve­hi­cle (FRCV) Pro­gramme

on the other hand, is at the ten­der stage for the pro­cure­ment of fu­tur­is­tic tanks through the Strate­gic Part­ner­ship model. In Novem­ber 2017, the Army had is­sued the Re­quest For In­for­ma­tion (RFI) for 1,771 tanks. Lt Gen­eral Shivane said the FRCV would re­place the Rus­sian T-72 tanks presently in ser­vice. Shivane is the Direc­tor Gen­eral of Mech­a­nised Forces in the Army Head­quar­ters.

Air De­fence

Con­sid­er­ing the high costs of new weapon systems, the army is go­ing in for weapon up­grades for L-70, ZU-23-2 Twin gun, and ZSU-23-4 Schilka. Mean­while, the army is look­ing for suc­ces­sors to L-70 and the ZU-23-2 (23mm Twin guns). Suc­ces­sor to Schilka (ZSU-23-4) al­ready ex­ists in the form of Tan­gushka, but in lim­ited num­bers. A re­quest for in­for­ma­tion has al­ready been is­sued to find a re­place­ment for Schilka.

In the mis­sile systems, Kvadrat (medi­um­range) and OSA-AK (short-range) are also at the end of their life-cy­cle. They were to be re­placed by Akash and Tr­ishul sur­faceto-air (SAM) mis­siles. Tr­ishul has been fore­closed and Akash is be­ing in­ducted for semi­mo­bile roles and as per the lat­est re­ports the Comptroller and Au­di­tor Gen­eral (CAG) has se­verely crit­i­cised In­dia’s home-made Akash air de­fence mis­sile sys­tem. It stated that the mis­sile systems or­dered by the Indian Air Force to counter China is “de­fi­cient in qual­ity” and has a 30% fail­ure rate, which posed an “op­er­a­tional risk dur­ing hos­til­i­ties”.

For air de­fence of mech­a­nised units, it has been planned to ac­quire Medium-Range SAM (MR­SAM) and Quick Re­ac­tion SAM (QR­SAM) systems. MR­SAM will be based on the same sys­tem which Is­rael in col­lab­o­ra­tion with DRDO is pro­vid­ing to the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.

VSHORADS is the state of art man por­ta­ble, mis­sile sys­tem for AD Pro­tec­tion of lo­gis­tic col­umns & nodes, Bridge Heads & by Spe­cial forces. This crit­i­cal sys­tem will re­place vin­tage IGLA-1M held presently.

Army Avi­a­tion – He­li­copters

Presently the Army Avi­a­tion Corps (AAC) has in its in­ven­tory the light ob­ser­va­tion class (Chee­tah and Chetak) mostly. Th­ese he­li­copters are ob­so­lete and have been in ser­vice since the 1960s and re­quire im­me­di­ate re­place­ment.

Un­der the Indo-Rus­sia joint ven­ture, 200 Kamov 226T he­li­copters will be pro­duced out of which 60 would be sup­plied to In­dia in fly-away con­di­tion. One hun­dred forty he­li­copters will be man­u­fac­tured in In­dia un­der a USD 1 bil­lion deal inked in 2015. The project will be im­ple­mented on the ba­sis of an in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal agree­ment, un­der which the Rus­sian side has taken the obli­ga­tion to trans­fer tech­nol­ogy and achieve­ment of the high­est pos­si­ble level of lo­cal­i­sa­tion in the cus­tomer’s coun­try. The Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL) is likely to form a joint ven­ture with Rus­sian He­li­copters to li­cence-build 200 Kamov Ka-226T ‘Hood­lum’ light multi-role he­li­copters to re­place the ob­so­lete Chee­tas and Chetaks held by the Army which are more than 30 years old.


The list of voids and ob­so­les­cence of army’s ma­jor weapon systems is alarm­ing. This hap­pens to a force when it is ne­glected by the government for a long pe­riod of time as it has hap­pened in the case of the army. We have only cov­ered four arms of the army. If ev­ery arm and ser­vice of the Army is con­sid­ered for fill­ing up of voids and mod­erni­sa­tion the list will in­deed be end­less. How are the army and the government plan­ning to make up th­ese short­ages and voids if the fund­ing re­mains at the cur­rent level? The de­fence ser­vices to­gether re­quire a bud­get al­lo­ca­tion of at least 2.5 to 3 per cent of GDP (less de­fence pen­sions) to sus­tain them­selves and to mod­ernise. Should this not be fea­si­ble then the government should se­ri­ously con­sider other op­tions in­clud­ing re­duc­ing the size of its armed forces and re­view its for­eign pol­icy on form­ing al­liances with friendly na­tions.

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