The government has now extended “full financial powers” to the Army vice-chief for now to maintain adequate stockpiles and combat readiness for “short and intense wars”. This move gains significance as it comes when the 1.3-million Army is on a high operational alert along the LAC with China
NEW DELHI: After first authorizing all the three Services to go in for emergency procurements of ammunition and spares after the Uri terror attack in September last year, the government has now extended "full financial powers" to the Army vice-chief for now to maintain adequate stockpiles and combat readiness for "short and intense wars".
This comes at a time when the 1.3-million Army is on a high operational alert all along the Line of Actual Control with China due to the ongoing troop face-off near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, while the Line of Control with Pakistan also remains volatile with daily cross-border firing exchanges and casualties on both sides.
After the Uri attack, the armed forces had inked a flurry of emergency deals worth over Rs 20,000 crore -- primarily with Russia, Israel and France -- to ensure their warships and fighters, tanks and artillery could undertake at least 10 days of "intense fighting" without worrying about ammunition and other reserves, as it was then reported by TOI.
The government had set up empowered procurement committees under the Army, Navy and IAF vice-chiefs with emergency revenue financial powers to "make up deficiencies and operational voids" by inking deals over a three-month period at a time.
The Army, on its part, had identified 46 different types of ammunition, 22 armaments, half a dozen mines as well as spares for 10 weapon systems ranging from tanks to artillery guns as "critical requirements", which together would amount to roughly Rs 35,000-40,000 crore.
The force has already inked 19 contracts worth Rs 12,000 crore, which includes 11 kinds of ammunition, since then. Of them, 10 contracts are with Russian companies for supply of engines and 125mm APFSDS (armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot) ammunition for its T-90S and T-72 tanks to Konkurs anti-tank guided missiles and Smerch rockets.
The CAG had also taken note of this alarming state of affairs in a report tabled in Parliament.