The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has heavily criticised the Indian Army and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for only acquiring eight per cent of the total 2,800 guns for the Indian Army artillery regiments, reported The Tribune.
The Indian Army’s ‘Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan’ or FARP was formulated in 1999 to acquire 2,800 155mm artillery guns by 2027.
The 2,800 guns under FARP included the acquisition of 1,580 towed guns, 814 mounted guns, 180 self-propelled wheeled, 100 self-propelled tracked, and 145 ultra-light Howitzer guns.
“The replacement of the existing artillery guns with the state-of-the-art guns has been progressing at a slow pace for over the last two decades,” CAG said to the MoD and the Army HQ, according to The Tribune report.
“Of the six proposals for the acquisition and upgrade of artillery guns, only three turned into contracts, making way for only 17 percent of the guns planned for acquisition”.
CAG highlighted the need for MoD and the Army HQ to make ‘realistic qualitative requirements’ for the guns, to avoid further delays.
In addition, the CAG report also flagged the dropping of the proposal to acquire ‘self-propelled guns’ without identifying a suitable substitute.
The delays in the modernisation programme are even more concerning given that India has domestically developed state-of-the-art design and production facilities for artillery guns.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had developed the Advanced Towed Artillery Guns System (ATAGS), which was ready for production for some time.
However, the production factories remained idle due to the lack of orders. Only early this month (16 March), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) approved the proposal to buy 307 ATAGS artillery guns.
Moreover, the CAG report said that despite undergoing various stages of trials and procurement, two proposals comprising 77 per cent of the total 2,800 guns had not been signed as of March 2022.
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