One of the major areas of the negative list of imports for defence equipment being made will be different types of ammunition, the army’s Master General of Ordnance Lieutenant General S K Upadhyay said on Friday.“None of these ammunition are niche technologies. They are old technologies of 1970s and 1980s vintage. But they are stable. So if people want to come in for manufacturing it or be at the backend of it, there will be more than enough opportunities,” Upadhyay said at a webinar organised by the Society for Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM).
Upadhyay, who is responsible for the army’s revenue procurements, said that there was an initiative a few years ago to procure different types of ammunition from the private sector. He was speaking on the eight types of ammunition that was to be manufactured by the industry for the army. A tender had been issued to selected Indian private firms in 2017 for this, including supplying grenades and armour piercing ammunition against tanks.
“It was a long term contract. It actually meandered along. I can assure you that all possible hurdles in those cases have been removed. You will see fast movement happening on that. Not only those, we are also looking at adding additional ones (ammunition), anything we are importing,” he said.
It is also expected that artillery guns could be on the negative list of imports, because guns that have lately been inducted into the army such as M777 howitzers, K9 Vajra and Dhanush are being manufactured in India.
To promote indigenous defence manufacturing and reduce imports, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, last week, had announced that a list of weapons and equipment banned for import would be made in consultation with the Department of Military Affairs headed by the Chief of Defence Staff.
However, while stressing that 80 percent of the army’s capability development and over 92 percent of its sustenance budget was based on indigenous products, the army’s Vice Chief Lieutenant General S K Saini at the webinar said that the import ban list will not restrict the forces to procure niche technologies from abroad.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General S S Hasabnis, the army’s Deputy Chief (Planning and Systems) who handles capital procurements, requested the industry to give their correct responses to a Request for Information (RFI), because the army’s general staff qualitative requirement (GSQRs) for an equipment are “hugely tempered” by it. GSQRs are specifications given for an equipment the army needs. Sitharaman while announcing the defence reforms had also highlighted setting realistic GSQRs. “Unfortunately, what is happening is that claims made in a RFI do not work out during trials. I would request all participants…please claim what you can achieve. So that we have realistic qualitative requirements made out,” he said.