Standing Committee on Defence: Much of army’s arsenal remains vintage – Defence News of India
“Guns for Butter”
The third in a five-part series examines the state of the army’s weaponry and the need for more funding to move to a more state-of-the-art arsenal
By Vikas Gupta
Defence News of India, 31 March 23
36e Report of 17e The Lok Sabha Defense Standing Committee, which was tabled in parliament on March 21, reveals that an unduly high proportion of the army’s combat equipment remains obsolete.
While discussing the recommendation made in 2018 by the Standing Committee on Defense that one-third of army equipment should be state-of-the-art and one-third in the contemporary category, while the remaining third could be vintage equipment; an army representative said, “Sir, you are right. It was 30:40:30. 30% had to be next-gen equipment, 40% had to be current equipment, and 30% could be legacy equipment. Currently, the situation is about 15% new generation equipment, about 40% current equipment and the rest old generation equipment. So that’s the transition we have to make. There is still some time before we can reach the ideal state of 30:40:30.
The Standing Committee’s report also reveals that the military was allocated a significantly lower budget than it had anticipated as a need – both in terms of revenue and capital.
In the previous five years leading up to today – i.e. fiscal year 2018-19 (FY19) to FY23 – the military has been allocated 6.5% to 26% funding less than what she asked for in revenue.
The capital allocation gap was even larger over the same period – between 35% and 55%.
Only in the budget of the current year, that is, for fiscal year 24, the army received almost the same amount as it had planned for its needs. Under the revenue heading, the army was allocated Rs 181,371 crore – Rs 3,619 crore less than its projection of Rs 184,990 crore. Under the capital head, he was allocated Rs 37,342 crore – exactly the amount he requested.
In recommending that the army be given the funds it demanded, the Standing Committee played its part: “The Indian army reinforces the idea of India and lives according to national values. The army is dedicated to safeguarding national interests, safeguarding the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of our nation. The challenges faced by the military include thwarting proxy wars, stopping internal threats, assisting the government and people of India during all needs and crises such as natural disasters, etc. “, says the report.
According to the report, the Financial Advisor (Defense Services) clarified the deficiencies in the Army’s capital allocations: “I would just like to mention two things. Defense budget allocations are a function of two aspects. One is the military’s projected demands based on its needs, and the other is the expenditures it has incurred in the past. It’s the balance of the two,” he said.
“I would just like to mention that over the last five or six years, the expenditure of the army with regard to the capital has been in the range of Rs. 25,000 crore to Rs. 28,000 crore… During in the current year, it has been increased to Rs. 37,000 crores. It is based on the request that the army has projected. It has already been increased,” said the FA (DS)
Underscoring the Department of Defense’s desire to expedite capital acquisitions for the military, the Standing Committee reveals that the Department had granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) in 29 procurement cases worth $100,000. around Rs 60,679 crore. These AoNs were granted in FY22 and the current FY23 (until December 2022). They are at various stages of the acquisition process for the commissioning of the equipment in the following years.