Force Magazine

On a Ventilator

The Indian Army desperately needs modernisation

A FORCE Report

The Indian Army may not have ammunition to fight the next war (with Pakistan, not to mention China) beyond three to five days. Holdings for all types of missiles, and anti-tank ammunition are critically low. Stockings for artillery (70 per cent fuses needed for firing are unavailable) and armour fighting vehicles ammunition are unlikely to last beyond four to five days of intense war. War Wastage Reserves (WWR) for most ammunition categories do not exist. (It is mandatory for the army to have ammunition stocks (WWR) for 40 days of intense war for long-shelf life category, and 21 days intense fighting for short-shelf life category like anti-tank, rocket artillery, and missiles. In addition, the army holds critical ammunition for two days of war as unit reserves, first and second line holdings). All this is when the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) responsible for ammunition has an annual turnover of USD2.5 billion and it regularly passes off its profits to the defence ministry as dividends.

This is not all. Mission reliability of mechanised vehicles is poor. The artillery is obsolete and inadequate; air defence is antiquated; armour is unreliable due to regular barrel accidents caused by mismatch between indigenous barrels and ammunition; and night fighting devices are insufficient. In military parlance, some would say that the army is unfit for war. To such people, it would be said that patriotic citizens should not discuss these matters in public as it lowers soldiers’ morale. Ironically, it ought to be the other way round: Right noises should be made, publicly if needed, to ensure that soldiers do not bleed in war.

BAE Systems
BAE Systems’ M777 155mm ultra-light howitzer procurement for the Indian Army has been mired in delays. The company has now offered to shift the final assembly line for the M777 to India

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