You are here: Home » Defence » News
Business Standard

Amid face-off with China, Army ammo worth $190 mn languishes in Russia

Army has not carried out pre-despatch inspection (PDI) for the last seven months

Topics
India China border row | Indian Army | Russia

Ajai Shukla  |  New Delhi 

indian army
The Russian government’s defence export agency has written at least three letters to New Delhi, including to the defence secretary, urging the MoD to expedite the PDI

This article has been updated to include a statement from the Headquarters

Even as the faces the prospect of armed hostilities with China’s military, 11 batches of urgently needed Russian ammunition, contracted by the for over $190 million, have been lying in warehouses in since February, awaiting shipment to India.

Indian procurement procedures stipulate that the ammunition can be shipped only after a mandatory pre-despatch inspection (PDI) by Indian representatives. However, the Army has not carried out PDI for the last seven months.

First the Army declined to send ordnance inspectors to because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Subsequently the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has refused to sanction their travel, apparently because of the expenditure involved.

Meanwhile the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Navy have completed the required PDI and have taken delivery of the ammunition they ordered. This was done by the simple expedient of authorising the air and naval attachés, posted in India’s embassy in Moscow, to carry out the inspections.

The Army, too, has a Brigadier rank officer posted as the military attaché (MA) in Moscow. However, unlike the air and naval attaches, the MA has not been authorised by the Army to carry out the PDI.

This is causing a shortfall of critical ammunition within the Army at a time when the MoD is making emergency purchases from the global arms market to cater for a possible clash with China. It is also raising the cost of the ammunition since Moscow has indicated that the delay will levy result in additional expenses.

Keeping in mind considerations of operational security, Business Standard is not divulging the types and quantities of ammunition that remain held up in

Meanwhile, the Russian government’s defence export agency, Rosoboronexport (ROE), has written at least three letters to New Delhi, including to the defence secretary, urging the MoD to expedite the PDI. Business Standard has reviewed this correspondence.

In a letter dated July 9, Sergey Ladygin, deputy director, ROE, informed the MoD that the delay “is resulting in direct financial losses… connected with refusals from chartered vessels, non-receipt of scheduled payments… overload of warehouses and extra expenses for stocking of explosive products”.

He urged the Army to follow the example of the IAF, which had, in May, already authorised the air attachés to carry out the PDI.

On September 23, Alexander Vyshar, chief of Russia’s land forces department wrote to the Army’s Master General of Ordnance, Lieutenant General Santosh Kumar Upadhyay, pointing out that the ammunition contracts allowed the Indian side to delegate the inspection authority to Russian officials.

Vyshar cited Paragraph 11.7 of the contract, which states: “Should the customer fail to use his right to participate in the PDI… the customer shall send the letter to the Supplier, stating that the supplier has the right to carry out the PDI without the participation of the customer’s representatives.”

On October 1, the Russian authorities raised the level further. ROE’s Director General Alexander Mikheev wrote directly to Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, pointing out that “the issue has not been resolved” despite Mikheev and Kumar having discussed it on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Moscow on September 3.

Pointing out that the ammunition “is in urgent need of the Indian side (sic),” he raised the question of vesting the Indian MA in Moscow “with authorisation to participate in PDI or allow (Russian authorities) to conduct inspections without participation of Indian specialists, as permitted” in the contract.

On September 17, the Army wrote to the Defence Advisor in Moscow that a 10-man team would be travelling to Russia for the PDI from September 21 to October 5. However, the MoD did not sanction their travel and the situation remains where it was.

The Indian Army Headquarters said in a statement on October 9: "It is clarified that the Military Wing of Indian Embassy at Moscow has been authorised to conduct PDI and the JRI will be done in India by service personnel duly supported by DGQA."

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Thu, October 08 2020. 22:10 IST