Indian Army bought faulty ammunition: Auditor


New Delhi : The Indian Army flouted norms by placing a repeat order for artillery shells that had been found defective a decade ago, India’s audit watchdog says.

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“Krasnopol ammunition costing Rs.375 crore ($76 million) was accepted without necessary trial evaluation. The ammunition proved unsuccessful subsequently,” the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said in his report released Friday.

“The same ammunition procured earlier in 1999 at the cost of Rs.151 crore was also found unfit for use after seven years against the shelf life of 15 years. Such procurement of defective quality ammunition adversely impacts operational preparedness of the army,” the report added.

Krasnopol shells are fired from the army’s 155 mm howitzers that are used in both offensive and defensive roles.

The defective ammunition had found mention in earlier CAG reports too, but the Indian Army went ahead to buy it in 1999 due to the “operational urgency” of the Kargil conflict that year. The shells were found to have limitations of range, angle and precision in high altitudes.

“During 2006, when confirmatory firing was carried out to assess the performance of the ammunition held in stock, all the six rounds fired blind. The confirmatory firing showed that the ammunition had degraded within half its shelf life of 15 years,” the CAG report pointed out.

The manufacturer was asked to rectify the defects but this was yet to be done as of September 2008.

A repeat order for the ammunition was placed in 2002 without any trial evaluation, the CAG noted.

“Though the initial procurement of 1,000 shells in 2000 might have been on grounds of operational urgency, the subsequent procurement of another 2,000 shells in 2002 without any trial evaluation was incorrect and against procurement norms,” the audit report said.

“As a result, the same limitation of the ammunition in high altitude persisted in the second consignment also. Thus, 3,000 rounds of ammunition worth Rs.526 crore remain unavailable for use,” the report pointed out.