Indian officers and officials expressed concerns before an Indian parliamentary committee on defence, service chiefs revealed dire shortfalls in equipment and investment. 

According to an article that appeared in the Asia section of the print edition of ‘The Economist’:

“Judging from the three services’ own testimony, the airing of such grievances is long overdue. MPs were told that some 68% of the army’s equipment, much of which was first supplied by the Soviet Union, such as BMP-2 personnel carriers and Shilka anti-aircraft guns, may be described as “vintage”. Only 8% could be considered state-of-the-art. “To be prepared for…a two-front war, the huge deficiencies and obsolescence of weapons, stores and ammunition existing in the Indian army do not augur well,” said the army’s report.

In its own commentary the committee noted, by way of example, that despite its having repeatedly raised the matter for a decade, the army had still failed to provide soldiers with adequate body armour. The other services are no better: antiquated MiG-21 fighter jets still patrol the skies and the navy’s shipbuilding programme is a decade behind schedule.”

Contemporary criticism of the Indian military has drawn attention to several issues, such as lack of political reform, obsolete equipment, lack of adequate ammunition and inadequate research and development due to over-reliance on foreign imports.

In addition, the lack of a ‘strategic culture’ among the political class in India is claimed by some to have hindered the effectiveness of the Indian military. Critics believe these issues hobble the progress and modernisation of the military.

Recently, a hatch left open on the INS Arihant lead to saltwater flooding the propulsion area, rendering the $2.9 billion submarine inoperative.

The incident was first reported by The Hindu. According to an Indian Navy source, a hatch was left open allowing seawater to rush in. The Arihant issue rose soon after INS Chakra, the Nerpa class nuclear submarine leased from Russia, was reported to have suffered damage to its sonar domes while entering the Visakhapatnam harbour in early October.

INS Arihant is to be the first of the expected five in the class of submarines designed and constructed as a part of the Indian Navy’s secretive Advanced Technology Vessel project. The Arihant class submarines are reported to be based on the Akula class submarine.

India has an ambitious plan to build a SSBN fleet, comprising five Arihant class vessels.

INS Arihant was introduced to the public in 2009 at a symbolic launch ceremony. The launch coincided with the 10th anniversary of the conclusion of the Kargil War and consisted of floating the vessel by flooding the dry dock. Defence Professionals Daily claimed Arihant was launched without key systems including its nuclear reactor, surveillance equipment, and ordnance.

Prime Minister Singh billed the submarine as an outcome of a public-private partnership. He also thanked Russia in his address, stating, “I would also like to express our appreciation to our Russian friends for their consistent and invaluable cooperation, which symbolises the close strategic partnership that we enjoy with Russia.”



    • India has been trying to build up its own domestic defense industry for a decade now but so far I don’t see it bearing any fruit.
      The Tejas jet is a mess and likely inferior the the JF-17, Russia appears to have taken their money to develop the PAK-50 but forgot to include them in the development and now there appears to have been a falling out, India is missing a vital partner in their rivalry with China and Pakistan.
      India desperately needs to team up with a reliable partner to properly develop their defense industry. Given how badly things have gone recently with France, I don’t see why they cannot team up with BAe as it appears to be working well in Turkey.

  1. A couple of alternative meanings of ‘vintage’ from Free Dictionary
    1. Characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal; classic.
    2. Old or outmoded

    • Most of the Royal Navy Escorts and the RFA fleet…..

      Hopefully it won’t be vintage for too much longer.

      • Apart from Fort Austin, Fort Rosalie and RFA Argus, which is newer, the RFA is hardly vintage Rick.

        I myself don’t class our T23’s as vintage either.

          • 80’s and back, but I guess everyone has their own view.

            I suggested the 432’s as they have been around since the 60’s! And the CVRT’s since the 70’s!

          • How about the 7.62 GPMG, introduced in 1961 or the .50 cal Browning m2 introduced before WW2 and in production since 1933. Both still used by the British Army today, and due to their superb service records probably for along time to come.

  2. I guess you’d expect this kind of problem when a military develops as fast as theirs has, things just get left behind. It’s well within their power to fix though given a few years, and India has the wherewithal to create a formidable force if they keep spending all their money on defence on nothing on improving the worse than third world living conditions of their country

  3. Yet again, another unsurprising article about the Indian MoD and the Indian Armed Forces in general. A lack of strategic thinking is not consigned to the political class but to the General Staff and Procurement Staff of the Indian Army, which is mired with corruption, inefficiency and a total lack of professionalism. An unburdening desire to envelope itself with red tape for the sake of red tape and its desire to have a made in India Defence Product will always mean that it will be a 3rd Tier Military. It is lucky that the Chinese have no desire to roll into New Delhi and the Pakistanis are equally as inept, that has essentially meant that India still exists Post Partition.

  4. India’s first nuclear missile submarine crippled as sailor leaves hatch open.

    This is the same Indian culture of incompetence that led to the Bhopal chemical disaster
    decades ago. Warning, India’s nuclear weapons are operated by the same kind of people.

    • Don’t think Bhopal can be simply laid at the feet of the Indians, certain foreign owners have to take their fair share of that blame too despite refusing to take any responsibility or pay adequate compensation since. Fact is they saw Indians as being cheap cannon fodder and the Indian authorities desperate for job opportunities disgustingly turned a blind eye to the dangers. The perfect storm of exploitation and incompetence at every level.

  5. Typical Indians want something for nothing – they do not understand the word quality. That is why they buy old western kit which is end of life, or cheap Russian that lack spares or future development. As Pakistan gets very cosy to China that is what ringing alarm bells for them. They need to invest as most of the kit they have would, be lost in days in any future conflict.

    Eurofighter would offer a perfect platform to plug the capability gap.

  6. The culture may or may not be reflected in the seemingly typical Indian comments on various boards I was reading about 5 years back. It was full of unquestioning bluster about how technologically advanced all their new ‘own brand’ or cooperative ventures were going to be compared to those imperialist European or Yankee Has-beens. The arrogance and over blown confidence and expectations in their capabilities was so great that I began to think there had to be at least some element of truth to some of it. So it’s particularly interesting, not to mention surprising to read just how deluded they were back then. To be honest I doubt that their enthusiasm has been dented that much, despite the various calamities to befall their forces and projects since. As I posed when I started, I can’t but help tnink it has been a similar attitude that has framed all those projects in the first place, maybe it’s part of the culture and desire to be seen as a first world nation and power, well before they have the remote capacity to deliver it.

    • I believe that to develop quickly you need to take risks but also there needs to be a purpose. This can be seen with the level of technological advancements between the start and finish of WW2. Germany, Russia, USA and the UK led the World as there was a need to get equipment to the front line that not only had to be effective, but better than their opponents. However, all four countries had significant industrial know how as well leading academics.
      If you ignore that the British Empire once ruled India, it can only be viewed as a 3rd World country that is developing. Why do I say this, well the majority of the population is poor and uneducated and there is a massive class divide.
      India is trying to compete on the World stage especially with its Northern neighbour China. The Chinese by comparison are highly educated as most of the schools are state run and it is compulsory for children to attend. India by comparison still use children in sweat shops and in farming. This is one of the reasons they are having so many problems trying to get modern projects not only off the ground but also into production. They have some very good academics but they don’t have the depth of engineering knowledge. A good example is the car industry, where the jointly produce cars based on a foreign design such as the Maruti and Tatas. They are catching up with mainstream car makers but they are not there yet! In the Defence Industry where they go their own way it is much more difficult as shown by their Arjun MBT which has taken over 25 years to get in production, There are so many problems with it they are buying MBTs from Russia and Ukraine.
      Unless you have a large educated workforce backing your developments and maintaining those systems the whole package will fail, bit like their dreams and aspirations.


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