The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is likely to sign a contract with Russia for the delivery of several thousands of anti-tank shells, to address the severe shortage of critical ammunition faced by the national army’s armoured vehicle fleet.
Unnamed defence ministry officials were quoted by Press Trust of India as saying that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has recently cleared the proposal to acquire a total of 66,000 Mango anti-tank shells from Russia.
The deal will also include the transfer of technology on the production techniques of the specialised tank ammunition to the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to facilitate indigenous production, the sources added.
The clearance follows a letter sent by the former army chief general VK Singh to the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, earlier this month pointing that only three to four days of tank ammunition was left in the inventory of the armoured regiments.
In a separate development, the Indian Army also informed the Standing Committee on Defence regarding the shortage and how the recent blacklisting of Israeli Military Industry (IMI) worsened the situation.
The MoD had already conducted negotiations on the delivery of Mango tank ammunition with Russia’s state-run arms exporter, Rosoboronexport in 2012, RIA Novosti reported.
The ministry, which is currently facing acute shortage of weapon systems, has also decided to establish joint ventures (JVs) with the Russian companies to domestically manufacture ammunition, such as the rockets for the Smerch multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) systems.
Also known as 3UBK20, the Mango is an advanced 125mm round designed for Russian-built T-72, T-80 and T-90 main battle tanks (MBTs) armed with a range of 2A46M cannon variants.