Chinks in the Armor

Why Indian armed forces are fighting with outdated weapons

01 October 2020
The most glaring example of the army’s poor state of modernisation is its quest to replace the underperforming INSAS with a modern assault rifle, the basic personal weapon of every soldier.
Sanchit Khanna / Hindustan Times / Getty images
The most glaring example of the army’s poor state of modernisation is its quest to replace the underperforming INSAS with a modern assault rifle, the basic personal weapon of every soldier.
Sanchit Khanna / Hindustan Times / Getty images

In April last year, as India was in the midst of parliamentary elections that saw Narendra Modi return to power with a bigger majority, the former vice-chief of the army staff Lieutenant General Sarath Chand formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Since many top military officers have joined the ruling party immediately after retirement, another one doing it within a year of hanging up his uniform should not have come as a surprise. But Chand had made news in February 2018, a few months prior to his retirement, when he told the parliamentary standing committee on defence that most of the equipment with the Indian Army was in the vintage category.

“Typically, any modern Armed Forces should have ... one-third of its equipment in the vintage category, one-third in the current category and one-third in the state of the art category,” Chand told the standing committee. “As far as we are concerned, the state today is 68 per cent of our equipment is in the vintage category, with just about 24 per cent in the current, and eight per cent in the state of the art category.”

Chand’s testimony lifted the lid on a problem that has not been solved since.

Sushant Singh is an award winning journalist and a former army officer.

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