India has signed a deal worth over Rs 2,600 crore with Russia to procure 66,000 anti-tank shells to meet the shortfall of critical ammunition faced by its armoured fleet including the latest T-90 tanks.
The two sides signed the deal on March 27 for the supply of anti-tank shells to the Army and agreement in this regard was inked by Defence Ministry officials from India and Rosoboronexport officials from the Russia side, the Defence Ministry said in New Delhi.
The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by the Prime Minister had recently cleared the proposal to acquire Mango 66,000 tank shells from Russia, they said.
Under the deal, Russia will also undertake transfer of technology on the production techniques of the specialised tank ammunition to the Ordnance Factory Board, which will produce it indigenously, they said.
Faced with shortage of weapon systems, the Defence Ministry has decided to form JVs with the Russian manufacturers to produce them in India like the rockets for the Smerch multi-barrel rocket launcher systems.
The severe shortage of tank ammunition was first highlighted by former Army Chief Gen V K Singh in a top secret letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March this year which later found its way to the media.
Gen Singh had noted in his letter that only three to four days of this particular ammunition was left in the inventory of the armoured regiments.
Later on, the Army had also informed the Standing Committee on Defence about the shortage and how the situation had worsened by the recent blacklisting of its supplier Israeli Military Industry (IMI).