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CAG pulls up Indian Army, MoD for delay in procuring howitzers

NEW DELHI (PTI): With no artillery gun inducted in over two decades, the CAG on Tuesday pulled up the Indian Defence Ministry and Army saying the delay in procurement of these howitzers has adversely impacted operational preparedness of the service and resulted in "substantial" cost overruns.

The CAG slammed the Defence Ministry and Army for "failure in defining the requirement of specific gun system that has deprived its artillery, for over a decade, of guns of latest technology, which are in service world over."

Also, procurement of these guns was not in sight in the foreseeable future, it said.

"The abnormal delay in procurement of the new guns has not only impacted the operational preparedness of the Army but also resulted in substantial cost over run...," the Comptroller and Auditor General said in its report tabled on Tuesday.

After the Bofors gun deal controversy in late 80s, the Army has not been able to induct even a single piece of new artillery gun after several failed attempts to do so.

In the last 15 years, Army has been processing the cases to procure 400 155 mm 52 calibre towed artillery guns, 145 Ultra Light and more than 140 wheeled and tracked self-propelled howitzers from global vendors.

The government auditor said artillery guns of modern technology could not be made available to the troops for over a decade for replacing the existing inventory of "obsolete technology of 1970 vintage".

Commenting on Ministry's policy to procure a self-propelled howitzers through "hybrid" route with the chassis of the Arjun tank, which itself was under development, the CAG said the "unwillingness to buy the integrated system has also delayed the procurement inordinately".

The CAG noted that the acquisition of artillery guns included in the 10th Army Plan has not materialised till now.

The armed forces are at the end of their 11th Plan period.

The CAG pointed out that "dilution in parameters of minimum ranges required for the gun indicated that the Army had not frozen even the minimum requirement."

On the field trials of towed artillery guns between 2002 and 2007, the CAG said the army spent "nearly five years on trials of a gun under development instead of a proven gun system".

The CAG was referring to the trial of artillery howitzers for which Request for Proposal (RFP) was released in 2001 and the Ministry had foreclosed the case of procurement six years later after trials as none of the nine guns in the race were in service in their country of origin.


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