Indian Army has finalised Rs. 15,000-crore indigenous ammunition project under which range of ammunition for its critical weapons and tanks will be produced indigenously. It is claimed to be biggest ever initiative for indigenisation of ammunition. It aims to overcome long delays in imports and address problem of dwindling stockpile.
The immediate aim of this project is to create an inventory for all major weapons to enable forces to fight 30-day war while long-term objective is to cut dependence on imports. For this, 11 private firms will be involved and its implementation will be monitored by the top brass of Indian Army and Defence Ministry.
The overall cost of project has been pegged at Rs. 15,000 crore. Indian Army has set specific target for next 10 years in terms of volume of ammunition to be produced. Initially, ammunition for range of rockets, air defence system, artillery guns, infantry combat vehicles, grenade launchers and various other field weapons will be produced under strict timelines. The production targets will be revised based on result of first phase of implementation of project.
The project is seen as first serious attempt by Government to address growing concerns voiced over past many years by Indian Army (world’s second largest standing Army) over fast dwindling stockpile of key ammunition considering the evolving security threats in the region and a at time when China is significantly ramping up its military capability.
In July 2017, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its report tabled in Parliament had mentioned that stock of only 61 types of ammunition out of 152 varieties was available, and these will only last for 10 days in event of a war. It was inadequate according to laid down security protocol which says that stockpile should be adequate for month-long war. The main reasons cited for the shortages were long delays in negotiations and subsequent procedural hurdles in import of ammunition which had adversely impacted the country’s defence preparedness. To overcome this shortage Government had initiated indigenisation programme. It also had empowered Indian Army to directly procure ammunition and spares for 10 types of weapon systems and equipment after internal review found optimum level of ‘war stores’ was not being maintained.