India eyes Russia to overcome ammunition shortage
New Delhi: Facing a critical shortage of ammunition for Army`s fleet of T-90 and T-72 tanks after the blacklisting of an Israeli firm, the Defence Ministry is now looking to procure these shells from Russia.
The severe shortage of tank ammunition was first highlighted by then Army chief Gen VK Singh in a top secret letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March this year which later found its way to the media.
After the blacklisting of supplier of the FSAPDS (Fin Stabilized Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot) used by T-90 and T-72 tanks, Russia has now been approached for supplying these tank shells, Defence Ministry sources said here.
A contract negotiation team under a Joint Secretary-level official had also gone to Moscow recently to discuss the price of FSAPDS ammunition but further parleys will have to be held to decide on the cost issue, they said.
To avoid such shortages in future, the Defence Ministry is also seeking a transfer of technology from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to produce the ammunition indigenously.
Gen Singh had pointed out in his letter that only three to four days of this particular ammunition was left in the inventory of the armoured regiments.
Later on, the Army had also informed the Standing Committee on Defence about the shortage and how the situation had worsened by the recent blacklisting of its supplier Israeli Military Industry (IMI).
Recently, the Army Headquarters had initiated the process to procure within 12 to 18 months around 75,000 to one lakh rounds of FSAPDS ammunition from global sources but apparently not much progress has been made so far.
After the issues were brought out by the then Army Chief, Defence Minister A K Antony had taken urgent steps to address them and has held several rounds of meetings with Army and Defence Ministry officials to review preparedness and do away with the stumbling blocks in the modernisation process.
Gen Singh`s letter had highlighted the obsolescence of the air defence systems in the Army and to address the issue, the Defence Minister has cleared the procurement of quick reaction surface-to-air missile systems for eight new regiments that are to come up.
Likewise, the procurement for 145 Ultra-Light Howitzers (ULH) from the US has also been cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
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