RUSSIANS NOT PREPARED TO RELINQUISH INDIAN AMMUNITION MARKET
By Bulbul Singh
19 Oct 12. As the Indian army scrambles to buy ammunition of various types on Fast Track basis from overseas, there have been complaints made against each other by competing countries to capture the market.
In the latest incident, Russia has complained against India’s decision to buy ammunition from Kintex of Bulgaria saying the company does not have the license to manufacture the ammunition for anti-aircraft guns. After the Indian Army awarded a contracted to Kintex last year for ammunition for ZU-23 anti-aircraft guns, Rosoboronexport complained to the Indian defence ministry that the Bulgarian company does not have the competence to manufacture the ammunition.
Rosoboronexport, which was number two in the competition for the $100 million deal, complained to the Indian defence ministry against the winner Kintex of Bulgaria that the Bulgarian company does not have the license to export the ammunition. The Russians argued that the license to the Bulgarian company is from Russia and that Kintex needs permission to export the 23mm ammunition to another country in the form of a written permit, adding that the fuses and components for manufacturing ammunitions have not been delivered to Bulgaria for more than 20 years.
Strongly contesting the award of order to the Bulgarian company, the Russians said, “The Bulgarian Company has outdated technology to manufacture the ammunition for the Russian ZU-23 anti-aircraft guns.”
The Indian Army had purchased ammunition in response to a 2010 global which was sent by the Indian Artmy to Kintex of Bulgaria, Rosoboronexport of Russia and Cenzin of Poland. Kintex emerged as the lowest bidder against Rosoboronexport while Cenzin did not participate in the bids.
The Russians do not want to relinquish opportunities in the Indian ammunition market. Sources say the Russians have already entered into ammunition deals with India worth over $3 billion this year. The supply of ammunition includes making joint venture for the rockets of Russian Smerch Multi-barrel Rocket Launcher systems. In addition the Russians will also supply ammunition for the T-90 tanks and cluster bombs.
Last year former Indian Army Chief General V.K. Singh informed the Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony in a letter saying that there are “critical shortages” of some variety of ammunition in the Indian Army. Thereafter the Indian Army has drawn a big list for Fast Track purchase of ammunition.
The Indian Army also needs ammunition for the 155mm/52 Calibre guns which have a firing range of more than 25 kilometers and have delayed fuze capability. Presently, Indian Army is using Krasnopol ammunition from KBP Tula of Russia.
Indian Defense Ministry of India planned to purchase 44,618 rifles and 33.6 million of ammunition at a cost of over $1 billion.
The competitors include Belgium’s FN Herstal, Italian Beretta, German Heckler and Koch, Israel’s Israel Weapon Industries, American Colt Defense and Bushmaster Firearms International and Singapore-based Singapore Technologies Kinetics. The winner of the tender should supply not only assault rifles and ammunition, but also laser designators and scopes.
According to the requirements of Indian Army, the rifles should be 5.56 calibre with a rate of fire of 660 rounds per minute. One of the conditions is also a licensed production machines in India. However the purchase programme is not moving at a fast pace due to competitor rivalry and complaints against each other said sources.