Army has proposed to cut down on the purchase of expensive items. There is a shortage of 15-20 per cent in critical ammunition. Army commanders likely to consider moving govt for additional funds: Sources

In a desperate measure to compensate for a 15 to 20 per cent shortage of critical ammunition, spares and missiles, the Indian Army has proposed to cut down on the purchase of expensive items, as well as discontinue the purchase of spares for vintage platforms to save money.

Among the expensive items the army has identified for the proposal are heavy multiple rocket launchers and anti-tank weapons.

Top sources in the Ministry of Defence told India Today that the on-going Army Commanders Conference - a bi-annual conference of Army commanders chaired by the Indian Army Chief that decides on the future course of action - will discuss this grim situation.

However, even cutting down on purchases of expensive items and discontinuing the spares for vintage items will not be enough for the Indian Army, according to its own estimates.

The commanders will be told that by cutting down on buying expensive items and spares for vintage platform, the force will be able to save between Rs 600 crore and Rs 800 crore over the next three financial years.

But desperate measures will still leave them with a short-fall of critical ammunition requirement of about 15 to 25 per cent.

The Army commanders are likely to consider moving the government for additional funds, top sources indicated.

The three services - the Army, the Navy and the Air Force - were mandated to be ready to fight a 40-day war and, therefore, be equipped accordingly.

But faced with an acute shortage of funds, the government decided to cut down on the war reserves enough to fight short-intense war lasting not more than ten days.

The items that the Indian Army has identified to be expensive include heavy multiple rocket launchers that are used to destroy artillery batteries, command post of the enemy, anti-tank weapons and specialised mines used in battlefields.

India Today is aware of the exact nature of the weapon systems but is not publishing the specifications for security reasons.

It must be noted that the stock of these items, currently, is not enough to fight a ten-day war. However, the Army commanders will be told to consider not to consider buying more of these items in order to save costs.

The Army commanders will also consider whether they should altogether stop buying spares for a certain type of air defence missile and certain type of high-mobility vehicles to transport machinery, which are considered to be vintage.

The shortage of critical ammunition and spares has been an issue of concern for the Indian Army. Recently, a Parliamentary committee had urged the Ministry of Defence to ensure that the allocations to the forces be suitably enhanced at the revised estimate stage so as to enable them to meet the requirements of highest level of operational readiness.