SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.
General Deepak Kapoor, Former Indian Army Chief blew up the Indian Defence space circle when he said that ” Indian companies should meet Indian orders first before exporting their weapons ” Irony was that it came at the back of Kalyani securing orders from Armenia for its Howitzers that Indian Army wants and needs but simply won’t orders even if war is staring at it until it completes mandatory user trials.
Kapoor also defended user trials that can go on for several years as the Indian Army wants until it is satisfied but often these user trials have been in controversy specifically stringent requirements that are set only for Indigenous weapons systems while Imported weapons get cleared after one-fourth of time when compared to the time taken to clear Indigenous weapons.
A famous and controversial case was when Indigenous Arjun Main Battle Tank was under testing that went on for nearly 30-plus years. For many years Arjun did have many issues but in later years it demonstrated quite a capability but Army had changed its mind and wanted a medium-weight tank and not a heavy tank anymore in reaction to Pakistan failing to get Abrams Heavy Main Battle Tanks from the United States.
Arjun Trials were controversial because Army at one point in time had been accused of a vested interest in sabotaging the tank at trial so that it underperformed and DRDO had to get Israeli tank experts to test the tank in one-to-one mode with Army’s T-90. Results demolished T-90s and Arjun came out the victor but that never translated into orders.
Kapoor in his tenure never really backed Indignieus weapons at large and Army User trials have become a meme after Manohar Parrikar then Defence minister had called Army requirements directly out of Marvel Comic books. Army in past has been accused of stitching up requirements based on multiple brochures that often make even International weapons manufacturers cry in pain.
Way Army user trials go on for years while the same standards are not followed for the foreign weapons systems, Modi’s Dream of taking India into top Weapons manufacturing country and Exporter will remain a pipe dream until the Army biggest of the three forces starts accepting locally made weapons systems but it simply can’t have multiple user trials without cost or time being specified.
Till now Army has failed to streamline its weapons procurement procedure and also has failed to limit rounds of user trials. Modi should plan to have Independent Weapons Testing Agency that will be in charge of user trials and also sets user requirements in coordination with Indian Military branches and only keeps small officers from the Indian military as independent observers when trials are held.
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