"Stuck” was the word for modernisation plans of the Army as all its programmes to upgrade the capabilities of its key arms including the artillery and air defence remained incomplete due to one or the other.
Under the USD five billion artillery procurement programme, Army Chief General V K Singh failed to keep his promise of inducting at least one type of gun in 2011. The Army Chief had promised the nation on January 12 that the Army would induct at least the ultra-light howitzers in 2011 but he failed to do so.
Army has been working on procuring the ULHs included in the Artillery Plan up to 2027. The Army had started working on the procurement through two separate procedures.
"The procurement on single vendor basis from ST Kinetics, Singapore is sub-judice. The option of procuring the equipment through US Government (FMS route) is now being pursued,” Defence Minister Minister A K Antony had said.
After the leakage of user trial reports from the Army headquarters, the trials by the DG Quality Assurance and the maintainability trials have not yet been completed.
The Army is still continuing its enquiry into the leakage while the Defence Minister has tasked DRDO Chief V K Saraswat to submit a report if the guns should be procured or not.
The tender to procure 400 towed artillery guns also continued to be haunted by the ghost of bofors. The RFP issued in the first quarter of the year suffered a serious setback as the BAE Systems backed out from the procurement process saying the requirements were far too relaxed and allow inferior guns also to chip in to meet the QRs.
The Army is planning to retract the RFP and issue a fresh one in the first quarter in 2012.
The long procurement procedure of inducting Self Propelled Wheeled guns got stuck after the defence Ministry put a hold on the procedure after complaints were made against the two participating guns in the tender.
Defence Ministry received complaints that the Rheinmetall of Germany and Kostrukta of Slovakia had fielded unproven guns in the race—a requirement that is mandatory in the Indian defence Procurement procedure.
The field trials have been completed in the contract and the defence Ministry has now formed a Committee under an Additional secretary to conduct an inquiry into the matter and come out with a report on the allegations against the two guns.
The tender to procure Self-propelled Tracked Guns has also been cancelled several times as despite several attempts; it has ended up in a single vendor tender with German Rheinmetall only remaining in the fray.
In the Army Air Defence, the Army has issued tenders for upgrading the existing inventory of L-70 air defence guns for which Larsen and Toubro, Tata Advanced Systems and Bharat Electronics Limited are in the fray.
Under the plans to upgrade the ZU-23 anti-aircraft twin-barreled auto canons, the RFP was responded to by Tata Advanced Systems, Larsen and Toubro and BEL where all the three companies have been cleared by the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC).
The AAD is planning to issue the RFP for procuring the successor systems for the vintage Zu-23 and L-70 guns in the near future.
Main contenders in the race would be Bumar of Poland and Rheinmetall of Germany.
The only major achievement in the AAD was clearance for procuring two regiments of the Akash surface to air missile batteries by the Cabinet Committee on Security under Rs 18,000 crore deal.