Indian Armed Forces to Get Indigenous SPAD-GMS, CQBs under Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative

Defence Industry

New Delhi: The long awaited announcement on the Self Propelled Air Defence Gun Missile System (SPAD-GMS) was to be made at the DefExpo in February this year but there was none as there has been strong opposition from the Russian side on the shortlisting of the South Korean company Hanwha Defence’s offer for the project.

Indian Army, despite making representations to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) explaining the critical need for the Close-Quarter-Battle Carbines (CQBs), will now have to wait longer till they are made in India.

At the end of a high-level meeting in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), it was decided to withdraw the Request for Proposals (RfPs) of two critical programmes — US$3 billion SPAD-GMS deal and the long-delayed Fast Track Procurement (FTP) of Close-Quarter-Battle Carbines (CQBs), sources said.

“Two critical programmes which have been getting delayed for various reasons are expected to be closed and these will now be made locally in an effort to ensure that the Indian Armed Forces’ dependency on imports is cut down. At the end of the meeting, it has been decided that the focus will be on `Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and announcement to this effect will be made soon,” sources added.

“The Russian side at various levels has been voicing its concerns to the Indian side. And there was a situation of a single vendor. Therefore, in all probability, the RfP will be withdrawn soon and the Army will go for the indigenously made gun,” sources said.

There were five bidders, and after extensive scrutiny only South Korean company and Russian company made it to the trial stage. During trials, Russia failed which left the South Korean company in the fray, thus creating a single vendor situation.

In the US$3 billion deal, the Russian side has been making several representations to the MoD focusing on issues related to the non-compliance to the specifications laid down in the RfP. And they have also mentioned that the system offered by the South Korean company is one generation older and if and when it is inducted in service, the Army will have to go for an early upgradation.

The SPAD-GMS will be replacing 1,360 obsolete Bofors L 70 40mm single barrel and Soviet-era ZU-23-2 towed 23 mm twin-barrel weapon systems of the Indian Army. The Indian Army needs almost five regiments of the guns which can be deployed with the forces and can be relocated based on the threat perception.

However, the specifications laid down in the RfP have remained unfulfilled by companies from Russia and South Korea.

A global tender was floated in 2013, and an upgraded Tunguska system was fielded by Almaz Ante and Pantsir by KBP Tula systems from Russia. Both the guns failed the trials. And, South Korean — Hybrid Biho System, was left in the race as a single vendor.