DESPITE KONKURS-M FACILITY INDIAN ARMY FORCED TO BUY FROM RUSSIA
By Bulbul Singh
21 Aug 13. India was forced to buy 10,000 Konkurs-M Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) from KBP Instrument Design Bureau of Russia despite a license-production agreement between the Russian company and India’s state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). BDL had failed to produce adequate numbers at home, leading to severe shortfalls of inventory of ATGMs. The latest report of India’s Comptroller General of India (CAG) has cast aspersions on the direct deal with Russia. Sources in the Ministry of Defense said, ”The Russians have not transferred the Konkurs-M technology to BDL nor has BDL has been able to quickly absorb the Russian technology.” The CAG report (13 of 2013) and tabled in the Indian Parliament on August 8 said, ‘The purchase of 10,000 Konkurs-M ATGM in November 2012 by the Indian Army worth over $200 million indicated that the effort of the Ministry of Defence to indigenize production of Konkurs-M missiles to avoid dependency on foreign supplies was defeated despite buying technology at a cost of $50 million from KBP under a contract concluded in October 2012. The CAG report also raises questions on why there was delay in striking a Transfer of Technology agreement between BDL and KBP of Russia despite the Indian Army expressing its desire to have Konkurs-M missiles in 1994.
‘The process of finalizing the contract took about eight years from the date of recognizing (1994) the need of improved version of Konkurs-M missiles, which was not justified.’ the CAG report said. The MoD remains silent on the reasons of delay in finalizing the contract.’
The report also finds fault in the contract signed, indicating that the Russians did not fully transfer technology. The MOD sourced said, ‘By not passing all the transfer of technology fully by Russian, BDL was not able to absorb technology for Konkurs-M missiles. India has yet to come up with a fully functional unit to produce adequate quantities of anti-tank missiles, which are capable of piercing protective plates shielding tanks. Between 2003 and 2008, the Army placed five indents to BDL for 28,000 of these missiles, up to January 2013, BDL supplied only 14,722 missiles, creating a backlog in supply of 13,278 missiles. The CAG report is also critical on why BDL did not increase is capacity of production of Konkurs-M missiles. It continued, ‘The BDL had first assured in 2010 that it will enhance its capacity of production of missiles in two phases i.e. from 3000 missiles per year to 4500 missiles per year in Phase-1 and 6000 missiles per year in phase-2. The Phase-I was to be completed by March 2012 and Phase-2 by March 2013. ‘The capacity increased only marginally by 500 missiles per annum even after spending 590 million Indian Rupees until February 2013.’ the CAG report noted. The former Indian Army Chief had complained to the MOD about the critical shortage of ammunition including the anti-tank guided missiles. India will continue to be dependent on the foreign sources as indigenous Nag anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) has yet to be inducted. Currently the India army faces shortfall of 50,000 ATGMs for the infantry combat vehicles and the present inventory also faces obsolescence. Currently around 12,000 Konkurs missiles have reached the end of their 10-year shelf life and there are now plans to phase them out, but cannot do it until there is a replacement.
In July 2013, the MoD ordered the purchase of 4500 Milan 2T ATGMs for $200 million, directly from BDL. Sources said, “The decision was mainly to favour BDL clear its outstanding stock of inputs for Milan-Ts even when the Indian Army preferred to buy advanced ATGMs from the global market through open competition. The Indian Army is not fully satisfied with the Milan 2T they are currently using as it falls short of the desired range during test firing on several occasions. The range of the Milan 2T is specified as 2000