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The second largest army in the world is kickstarting a ₹150 billion project to produce ammunition indigenously

Business Insider 2018-05-14 12:00:00

  • The Indian Army will source the ammunition for weapons and tanks from 11 privately-run companies.
  • The 10-year project, which is the largest of its kind, is aimed at enabling the army to fight a 30-day war and reduce its dependence on imported weapons.
  • A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India last year found that the army’s reserves of critical ammunition would only allow it to fight for 10 days.

India’s army, the second largest in the world, is taking a big step towards self-reliance and maintaining combat-readiness as it struggles with declining stocks of equipment stocks and import delays. Government officials have told the Press Trust of India that the army has approved a ₹150 billion ($2.2 billion) project - the largest of its kind - for the domestic production of ammunition for weapons and tanks.

The army will source the ammunition from 11 privately-run companies. The project, which will be jointly overseen by the Indian Army and the Ministry of

Defence

, is not only aimed at reducing dependence on imported ammunition, but also enabling the army to fight a 30-day war at any given time due to a sizeable inventory.

The project will be carried out in phases over a 10-year timeframe. Production targets will be subject to change pending the completion of the first phase of production. The project will initially centre on the production of ammunition for combat vehicles, rockets, artillery, grenade launchers and other field weapons.


This is a long-term project. In order to meet its ammunition requirements in the short term, the Indian army is cutting down on the procurement of non-essential types of ammunition, such as those used for old vehicles and missiles,

in favour of newer equipment

.

A low-level of war-readiness

The Indian army’s level of war-readiness has been a cause for concern in recent years amid supply deficiencies and operational mismanagement. In mid-2017, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) found that the army’s reserves of critical ammunition at that time would only allow it

to fight for 10 days

as opposed to a 20-day requirement. The supply of only 31 types of ammunition, out of a total of 152, was found to be sufficient. A full-scale war requires stocks of ammunition to last for 40 days.


The spectre of China

India’s defence ambitions can also be seen as reactionary. Despite a recent softening of tension with neighbour China, combat-readiness is still an important priority given the expansion, in both a numerical and geographic sense, of the Chinese army. At the meeting of Communist Party of China in October last year, President Xi Jinping announced plans for the development of its military infrastructure and left the world with a ominous soundbite. “

We aim to build a world-class military by 2050

”.


A boost for Make in India

India is one of

the world’s largest importers of arms

, a fact that is not lost on the government. The ammunitions project could give the Indian government’s Make in India plans a welcome boost. At the Defence Expo in Chennai last month,

Prime Minister Modi outlined a number of initiatives

for the domestic production of military equipment, such as the establishment of two industrial corridors for defence companies and faster approvals process for manufacturing licenses.