Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 21
There is a shortfall of over 40 per cent in the indigenous production and issue of T-90 battle main tanks that were to form the cutting edge of the Indian strike formations.
Against a target of 300 tanks by 2010, only 167 tanks were handed over to the Army by 2013 by the Ordnance Factories.
The delay in indigenous production resulted in fresh imports of T-90 tanks at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore. The delays in the indigenous production come in the backdrop of the Army reporting a 38 per cent shortage of tanks against its authorised holding of 3,717 machines in 2000.
To overcome the shortage, the MoD decided to import 124 T-90s, assemble another 272 T-90s from kits and licence-build 300 T-90 tanks in India along with 124 Arjun tanks. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its latest report tabled in Parliament, has observed that the Defence Ministry planned to achieve self-reliance in manufacture of tanks by a phased induction of Arjun during 1985-2000. This schedule shifted to 2002-09.
The production of indigenous T-90 tanks based on transfer of technology (ToT) from Russia was slated to be accomplished during 2006-10. However, production of the indigenous tanks did not meet the schedule planned for timely fulfilment of the Army’s needs. In numbers, the ordnance factories have met the indent for Arjun — 119 out of 124 were delivered after holdups arising out of frequent changes in design, delay in establishment of production infrastructure and problems of sourcing components.
The ToT for indigenous production of T-90 tank was marred by delays in translation of design documents, which took six years, and the Russian firm’s failure to share designs on critical assemblies such as the gun assembly. The problem was compounded by delays in decisions on alternative solutions on these designs.
CAG pointed out that a case in point is the Directorate General of Quality Assurance thwarting the proposal by the ordnance factories for using “modified chemistry” proposed for the barrel for T-90 tank. This was despite the fact that the factories had experience with “modified chemistry” for the barrel of T-72 tanks.
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