South Korea's K-31 BIHO, self-propelled air defence gun Missile System (SPAD-GMS)

The projects for procuring carbines and self-propelled air defence system had been in the works for long, but were stuck due to price & technical requirements, among others. Indian Army, despite making representations to the CDS explaining the critical need for the CQBs will now have to wait longer till they are made in India

At the end of a high-level meeting in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), there are plans to withdraw the Request for Proposals (RfPs) of two critical programmes — the $ 3 billion Propelled Air Defence Gun Missile System (SPAD-GMS) deal and the long-delayed Fast Track Procurement of Close Quarter Carbines. High placed sources told to Financial Express Online “Two critical programmes which have been getting delayed for various reasons are expected to be closed and these will now be made locally in an effort to ensure that the Indian Armed Forces’ dependency on imports is cut down. At the end of the meeting, it has been decided that the focus will be on `Atmanirbharbharat’ and announcement to this effect will be made soon.”

Though earlier this year at the DefExpo, an announcement related to the winner was expected. However, there was none, as there has been strong opposition from the Russian side on the shortlisting of the South Korean company Hanwha Defence’s offer for the SPAD-GMS project.

“The Russian side at various levels has been voicing its concerns to the Indian side. And there was a situation of a single vendor. Therefore, in all probability, the RfP will be withdrawn soon and the Army will go for the indigenously made gun.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, Independent monitors were appointed by the MoD to ensure that all steps were followed as per the RfP as well as the DPP and they were to come out with a comprehensive report outlining any concerns if any.

So Far …

There were five bidders, and after extensive scrutiny only South Korean company and Russian company made it to the trial stage. During trials, Russia failed which left the South Korean company in the fray, thus creating a single vendor situation.

In the $ 3 billion deal, the Russian side has been making several representations to the MoD focusing on issues related to the non-compliance to the specifications laid down in the RFP. And they have also mentioned that the system offered by the South Korean Company is one generation older and if and when it is inducted in service, the army will have to go for an early upgradation.

However, as was reported earlier, in an exclusive interaction the South Korean company had refuted all these concerns raised by the Russian side in their presentations to the MoD.

“The Hybrid Biho which has been offered is the improved version of the original Biho mobile air-defence system and is fully compliant to the specifications mentioned in the RfP, “company officials had told Financial Express Online.

What Is The Indian Army Looking For?

The SPAD-GMS will be replacing 1360 obsolete Bofors L 70 40mm single barrel and Soviet-era ZU-23-2 towed 23 mm twin-barrel weapon systems of the Indian Army. The Indian Army needs almost five regiments of the guns which can be deployed with the forces and can be relocated based on the threat perception.

However, the specifications laid down in the RfP have remained unfulfilled by companies from Russia and South Korea.

A global tender was floated in 2013, and an upgraded Tunguska system was fielded by Almaz Ante and Pantsir by KBP Tula systems from Russia. Both the guns failed the trials. And, South Korean — Hybrid Biho system, was left in the race as a single vendor.

Close Quarter Carbine From The UAE Based Caracal

Indian Army, despite making representations to the CDS explaining the critical need for the CQBs will now have to wait longer till they are made in India.

There are plans to cancel the RfP for 93,895 CQBs deal too as it has already got delayed even though it was to come through the FTP route.

Private sector companies have offered to make these locally and the MoD in an effort to promote Atmanirbharbharat is expected to announce the cancellation soon.

A fresh RfP is expected next year and it will be for over all requirement of 3.5 lakh CQB.