Govt plan to gift weapons leaves Indian military officials surprised

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Nearly 70% of equipment used by the Indian army is obselete, vice chief of the force recently informed a parliamentary standing committee, The Indian Express noted in a report on the planned presentation of outdated weapons to “friendly countries”.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has asked the military to prepare a list of  obsolete equipment that can be refurbished and sold to “friendly countries”. The move seems to have left senior military officials surprised who say the bulk of such equipment remains in use due to paucity of funds.

Artillery guns, armoured vehicles, helicopters, naval patrol units and radars together constitute platforms being looked at, sources told the publication. India has already provided Mi-25 helicopters to Afghanistan. Indigenously-produced equipment such as patrol vessels have also been handed over to selected regional countries.

“In the course of our engagement with many foreign countries, especially during various high-level visits, a number of friendly foreign countries have projected a requirement for second-hand military equipment for their armed forces on a gift basis,” a sources said. Requests have been received from countries across the Indian Ocean region, Africa, Central Asia and Asia-Pacific, they said. “Fulfilling the requests would open the way for deeper strategic engagement with these countries, but also pave the way for long-lasting partnership through deploying training teams, offering special courses in India as well as supply of spares, repair work being carried out in India over the long term,” the sources added.

A senior Indian Air Force official told The Indian Express the force was was still using obsolete Pechora missiles which have not been due to shortage of funds. An Indian army functionary expressed surprise over the plan, coming at a time when antiquated equipment continues to bedevil the military. The vice chief of the Indian army recently told a parliamentary standing committee that 68% of equipment was obsolete and no funds had been allocated to replace it.

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