In a bid to boost defence cooperation, the government has asked the armed forces to compile a list of obsolete military equipment that can be “refurbished at minimal cost” and gifted to “friendly” countries, sources told The Indian Express.
Apart from the strategic significance, sources said, the government hopes to create a base “to expand export of newer defence platforms, which have been made in India, to these countries”. However, the move appears to have taken by surprise senior army and air force officers, who say much of the equipment that can be classified as obsolete is currently in use due to lack of funds.
Specific military platforms being looked at, said sources, are artillery guns, armoured vehicles, helicopters, naval patrol vehicles and radar systems that are obsolete or nearing obsolescence.
So far, India has only gifted used Mi25 helicopters to Afghanistan, although it has provided indigenous smaller equipment such as patrol boats to some countries in the neighbourhood.
These requests have come from some countries of the Indian Ocean Region, some African countries, Central Asian Republics and the Asia-Pacific region
According to the Army Vice Chief’s testimony to a Parliamentary standing committee, 68 percent of equipment is obsolete and no funds have been allocated to replace them. Hit by a shortage of funds, the Army has decided to stop purchasing certain types of expensive ammunition to build stocks for even 10 days of fighting.
The latest proposal by the government is akin to the Excess Defense Assets (EDA) programme of the United States where it transfers excess defence equipment to chosen foreign countries at a reduced price or as a grant. The reduced price is a percentage of the original acquisition value, based on age and condition of the equipment, and ranges from five percent to 50 percent of the original cost.
The recipient country, however, has to pay for packing, crating, handling and transportation, as well as refurbishment, if applicable. The Indian proposal envisages the transfer to be a gift.