New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) Bogged down by delays in procurement of guns to bridge critical gaps in its artillery, Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh Thursday said the purchase of these weapon systems is caught in “a snakes and ladders game” in which there are “no ladders”.
Gen Singh, who was addressing his annual press conference here ahead of the Army Day to be celebrated on Sunday, was asked about his optimism exactly a year ago of procuring at least one type of artillery guns in 2011, but it did not materialise.
“The procurement game is a version of snakes and ladders where there is no ladder but only snakes, and if the snakes bite you somewhere, the whole thing comes back to zero,” Singh said.
In the last 25 years, India has not bought even a single gun after the then government of Rajiv Gandhi was hit by a pay-off scandal over procurement of the Bofors guns.
All efforts by the army to procure four types of guns in the last few years have met with failures and the latest effort to buy 145 ultra light howitzers M777 from the BAE Systems stable through the foreign military sales route from the US too is caught up in red tape.
Asked about his assurance last year on inducting artillery guns, Gen Singh said, “this time it is not the snake which has bitten us, but there is certain problem area that came up, certain committee was made and certain things were referred to the law ministry.”
He also expressed the hope that the guns planned for induction would come through soon.
“We have put in place a very comprehensive and a very well thought out plan by which both indigenous development, certain amount of acquisition and certain amount of joint ventures have been meshed together. So that in years to come we get out of this type of the problem,” he added.
The Indian Army has expressed its intention of buying four types of artillery guns, but has failed to procure even one of them, including the 145 ultralight howitzers of 155mm 39 calibre guns from the US for which efforts were initiated two years ago.
Among the guns required by the Indian Army are 155mm 53 calibre towed guns numbering 1,180, another 180 155mm 52 calibre wheeled self propelled guns, 100 of 155mm 52 calibre tracked self propelled guns, apart from the 145 ultra light howitzers.
These guns are required by the army to replace its 1970s vintage guns of 105mm, 122mm and 130mm calibre.