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India Needs More Vehicles, But Spending Less

Mar. 19, 2013 - 08:45AM   |  
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI   |   Comments
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NEW DELHI — India’s spending on military vehicles has dropped slightly, despite the fact that defense forces have been urging faster vehicle procurement.

The budget allocation for military vehicles for the year 2013-14 is 20.8 billion rupees ($383 million) compared with an allocation of 22.6 billion rupees in 2012-13 and an actual spending of 23.5 billion rupees in 2011-12.

The drop in spending is even steeper when compared with the rupee’s declining value against the dollar. Three years ago, 48 rupees equaled $1, and now it takes 54 rupees.

The Indian Army still has failed to finalize purchases of armored personnel carriers and strike vehicles, which, according to an Indian Defence Ministry source, is the reason for the “near stagnation” on spending. The Indian Army has not purchased about 100 personnel carriers, the tender for which was first floated in 2009.

Only Ukraine-based Ukraine Export had submitted bids, which were also sent to Russia’s Rosoboronexport, Poland’s Bumar, U.K.-based BAE Systems, Germany’s Rheinmetall and U.S.-based General Dynamics.

The Army seeks to secure personnel carriers for use by its specialized forces.

In addition, the Defence Acquisitions Council, the MoD’s highest authority on weapons purchases, in October approved $300 million to buy 3,000 light strike vehicles for the Army.

A request for information has been issued for the vehicles, which will be used by special operations forces and will be fitted with integrated firepower systems. The Army has sought a stable vehicle that can carry four soldiers in full-combat mode. The request has been sent to major domestic automobile contractors.

An Indian Army official said the service urgently needs a variety of military vehicles for speedy movement against terrorists and preparedness for a swift fight in the future, yet procurement delays by the MoD have slowed the purchase process.

The Army submitted its request for vehicles nearly five years ago, which included wheeled armored personal carriers, light strike vehicles, command post vehicles, light armored multipurpose vehicles and vehicle platforms for multibarrel rocket launchers, the Army source said.

Pressure from the domestic automobile industry to give tenders only to domestic firms — against the Army’s desire for international competitions — is the reason behind the MoD’s inability to move quickly, the MoD source said.

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