New Delhi: At a time when the focus mainly remains on Gen VK Singh’s reported faceoff with the political leadership and the shocking disclosures made by him in the recent past, nobody really seems to be bothered about the status of our armed forces and its requirements.
Much to our discomfort, a shocking report carried by a leading TV news channel claimed on Friday that the Indian Army is facing a serious crisis- its ammunition level is critical and can only last for ten days in the event of a war.
The Army Chief had also pointed to serious gaps in the country defence preparedness in a letter addressed to the PMO, the contents of which were leaked to the media later.
In its report, the channel claimed that Army has repeatedly apprised the political leadership that its war reserves are below critical level and the armed forces does not have sufficient reserve of certain ammunition to meet any eventuality.
As per the report, the list of critical imported ammunition that will last for just 10 days in case of conflict is key mainstay 125 mm tank ammunition called the Fin Stabilized Armoured Piercing.
Reserves for it in 2009 were just for 5.85 days. However, the Army is yet to procure 16000 additional rounds from Russia.
Similarly, the 122 mm high energy reduce charge used by the artillery is expected to last for just 1.27 days if the event of a full-scale war. The procurement of the same has once again been re-tendered.
Apart from the imported equipments and ammunition, the stock of defence related items manufactured by indigenous Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is also at critical level.
According to a presentation made by the Army in June 2008, the 120 mm Mortar Bomb was available for just 7.43 days of war. Also, the ammunition for the 155 mm illuminating gun is available for just 4.65 days of conflict. The government is still struggling to make up for this deficiency. The 155 mm SMK, smoke ammunition will last for 6.29 days.
What is more alarming is the fact that a large amount of ammunition provided by the Ordnance Factory Boards have been found to be faulty. In its presentation in 2008, the Army claimed that more than 86,000 rounds of 125 mm ammunition were faulty.
Moreover, nearly 137 lakh rounds of ammunition for the basic INSAS rifle has also been reported to be faulty.
Interestingly, the government had been maintaining that its war reserves can last for 30 days of conflict. In view of the government’s claim, the ammunition level at present is at a critical level.
A major factor for this decline in the ammunition level has been the blacklisting of several firms manufacturing defence-related items, in the wake of several scams, by the government.