Indian Defense Ministry in a move to expedite defense procurement has given a free hand to the Vice Chief of Army Staff to sanction weapon purchase of up to Rs 40,000 crore ($6.2 billion) without requiring a clearance from the Defense Acquisition Council.
Facing an acute shortage of defense equipment, the government terming this decision as a “leap of faith” by entrusting the procurement powers aims to expedite the process which is often delayed by bureaucratic red tape and political considerations, Daily Pioneer reported Thursday.
The Indian Army currently faces shortage in 46 types of ammunition, including artillery, tanks and other critical spares.
Taking note of this “hollowness” in terms of shortage of ammunition for the entire range of weapons and spare parts for armament like tanks, infantry combat vehicles and others, the Government in September had sanctioned emergency powers to the Vice Chief for three months to fill the gaps. The period was then extended for another three months in January this year in which the Army signed 19 contracts with 11 of them for procuring ammunition alone for long-range artillery guns, mortars and bullets for infantry soldiers using rifles, machine guns and related weaponry, unnamed officials were quoted as saying by the news portal on Wednesday.
The IAF and Navy will also get the same powers, they added.
While stressing the point that the Vice Chief can now straightway procure these critical items without prior approval to cut down delay, sources, however, clarified that the sanctioned money will be used within the budgetary constraints.
The contracts signed by the Army after Uri attack include armour piercing ammunition for T-90 and T-72 tanks, anti-tank guided missiles and fortified rockets for Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers.