10 May 2018
Indian defense procurement system is a mess: Report
Written byDeepak Singh ·
Latest defense ministry report has ridiculed the Indian weapons-buying system for being inflicted with "multiple decision-heads, duplication of processes.....delayed execution, no real-time monitoring, no project-based approach and a tendency to fault-find rather than to facilitate."
But, are we?
India won't sustain a 10-day war
In March, a Parliamentary Standing Committee report remarked that government lacks intent to achieve strategic defense objectives. It pointed out Army and the Navy have insufficient funds to buy weapons systems and to pay for their liabilities. Thus, India can't even sustain a 10-day war.
'Make in India' not to the rescue
Unfortunately, 'Make in India' hasn't really been able to match upto its potential as envisaged in numerous events and advertisements.
Though Lockheed Martin teamed up with Tata Advanced Systems to shift its F-16 production to India, they have been persistent on holding their proprietary technology, thus no 'Transfer of Technology' has happened.
This would simply translate to assembled in India rather than made in India.
Where is Rafale?
Laborious procurement process
India is the world's biggest purchaser of weapons, but like the previous governments, present government too has failed in cutting down the red tape that languishes the procurement process.
The demand for 126 Rafale fighter jets by the Air Force, pending for 17 years, is a perfect example.
Even now, only 36 jets have been contracted, while none of them have been delivered.
15 times slower
Only 8-10% deals of last three year fulfilled on time
In the last 3 years, only 8% to 10% of 144 deals have been fructified within the expected timeline.
File clearance takes as high as 15 times more time than the stipulated deadline, thanks to a tardy process starting from the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage, where the government allows bidding for contracts, to the final deal-clearance given by the Competent Financial Authority.
Do you know?
Once a file took 422 weeks to get cleared
On average a file takes 120 weeks to get cleared, 6 times more than the timeline laid down by the defense ministry. Until now, fastest RFP clearance was given in 17 weeks and the slowest took a mammoth 8 (422 weeks) years to get cleared.
Hardly any funds
Insufficient defense budget
In 2018-19 defense budget, the Army was allocated Rs. 17, 756 crore less that what they had requested.
Showing discontent, Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand said, "Allocation of Rs. 21, 338 crore for modernization is insufficient even to cater for committed payment of Rs. 29, 033 crore for 125 ongoing schemes, emergency procurement, and other DGOF requirements."
There will be "hardly any funds for new schemes in 2018-19."
Changing the mindset
Lack of synergy between the Army, Air Force and Navy
The report notes, the Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard do not work as a system. There is a "lack of synergy between three services," thus further pressurizing the limited defense budget.
Moreover, the forces perceive the Acquisition Wing of the Defense Ministry not as a facilitator, but as an obstacle. Hence, it suggested a tectonic change in the mindset of the ministry.
68% weapons in "vintage category"
With procurement process moving at a snail's pace, outdated technology is dominant in the Indian defense system.
In 2010, half of India's defence equipment were outdated, while only 15% were state of the art.
Getting worse, as of today, 68% of our defense equipment is in "vintage category, 24% are in the current and only 8% in the state-of-art category," according to the Army Vice-chief.