Ten Indian Army programs worth more than $3.2 billion have been put on hold for at least six months by India’s new United Progressive Alliance government, whose Finance Ministry says that contracts signed by the preceding government leave little money for other procurement.
“The delay will cause a major problem in the procurement of the weapons and equipment for the Indian Army,” a senior Army planning official said June 23. “Even after six months it is not clear whether they will go ahead, because the new government in Delhi may review some programs.”
Most of the programs on hold have been approved in principle by Army procurement officials, who expected to sign contracts for them within six months. These include:
* 36 Smerch multibarrel rocket launchers from Rosoboronexport, Moscow.
* 28 Tunguska air defense systems from Rosoboronexport.
* 12 Nishant unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation.
* 16 Heron UAVs from Israel Aircraft Industries, Lod, Israel.
* 120 Igla surface-to-air missiles from Rosoboronexport.
* Six Indian-made weapon-locating radar systems from Bharat Electronics, Bangalore.
* 12 training simulators for UAV operators from Macmet Industries, Bangalore.
Three other programs on hold are not so close to signing:
* 100 155mm tracked howitzers. Contenders for the job include Denel, South Africa; Soltam, Israel; and SWS Defense, Karlskoga, Sweden.
* 180 155mm wheeled howitzers. Contenders include Denel, Soltam and SWS Defense.
* 950 night-vision devices for T-72 tanks, for which the contenders are IAI Electronics Group, Yahud, Israel; LITEF GmbH, Freiburg, Germany; and Reutech Defense Industries Ltd., Natal, South Africa.
Finance Ministry officials did clear the Defence Ministry to put $1.17 billion toward several purchases signed between January and April by the previous National Democratic Alliance government, a senior Defence Ministry official said. This payment — 20 percent of the deals’ total value for the year — will be disbursed within two weeks.
Those deals include:
* Buying 66 Advanced Jet Trainers from BAE SYSTEMS, Farnborough.
* Acquiring the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov from Rosoboronexport, Moscow.
* Buying 16 MiG-29K naval aircraft from Russia to be mounted on Admiral Gorshkov.
* Buying three Phalcon radar systems from IAI, Israel.
India buys about $5 billion in weapons and gear each year — about $2 billion from foreign firms and $3 billion from state-owned defense companies and ordnance factories, a procurement official said.