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by Shaukat Mohammed

HYDERABAD: The Indian Army is evaluating the technical bids submitted by 7 private sector companies, including 2 companies from Hyderabad—HBL Power Systems Ltd and Premier Explosives Ltd—to supply different types of ammunition, sources with direct knowledge of the procurement process said on Thursday.

The sources told TOI that the Indian Army had given the Request for Proposal (RFP) to the seven companies earlier this year. The technical evaluation of the bids was ongoing, the sources said.

The army was seeking to buy several types of ammunition, including 30 mm High Explosive Incendiary (HEI), ordnance for the 122 mm GRAD BM rocket launcher, bi-modular charge system for the 155 mm artillery guns, 125 mm high-velocity flat-trajectory armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding-sabot traced cartridge (FSAPDA), 30 mm VOG 17 fragmentation grenades to be used in AGS-17 mounted automatic grenade launcher, 40 mm high explosive and high explosive dual purpose (HEDP) for rocket launchers, and electronic fuses.

“The Indian Army needs to replace the ammunition deemed to be too old for use in combat situations. So far, the army was importing the ammunition it needed from overseas. The foreign firms usually refurbish old ammunition and sell it to our army. Refurbishing could include replacing the propellant in the ammunition. Rarely, however, do the suppliers from overseas supply new ammunition because such an exercise involves high cost,” the sources said.

Apart from the possibility that the vendors from overseas could be supplying refurbished ammunition, the army was also seized of the fact that the government was promoting the manufacturing sector in the defence space.

“The government’s Make in India also played a major role in the army’s decision to look for local players to supply the ammunition, though the local industry could have foreign companies as their technology partners,” the sources said.

The sources said that the army was aware of the fact that local industry did not have the technical wherewithal to manufacture the ammunition in India, and therefore needed partners who could bring such expertise to India.

The seven companies that had submitted their bids include Saarloha, a company owned by the Kalyani group of Pune, Maharashtra, AAN Engineering Industries Ltd, a subsidiary of Rico Auto Industries Ltd, Economic Explosives Ltd, a part of Solar Industries India Ltd of Nagpur, Maharashtra, Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd of the Mahindra group, Bharat Forge of the Kalyani group and HFCL.

While Saarloha has Arsenal J.S. Co of Bulgaria as its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) as its partner, EEL’s partner is MSM of Slovakia, and AAN Engineering’s partner is SFTE Spetstechno Export of Ukraine. The three companies have bid for the supply of 30mm HEI and HET.

EEL has also partnered with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the supply of 122 mm FR RKT. Other bidders for the 122 mm FR RKT include Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd, which has MSM of Slovakia as its OEM, HBL Power Systems Ltd of Malakpet, Hyderabad, Telangana State, which has EdePro of Belgrade, Serbia as its partner.

Premier Explosives Ltd of Secunderabad has partnered with Simmel Difesa Nexter Systems SA of France for the supply of BMCS HZ & LZ ammunition. The other bidder in this category is EEL, which has partnered with DRDO.

AAN, Bharat Forge and HFCL had bid for the supply of electronic fuses. The army has cancelled the bids for the 125mm FSAPDS, the sources said.

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