The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Friday it has signed a landmark contract with Pune-based defence PSU, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), for the procurement of electronic fuzes to provide ammunition for artillery guns of the Indian Army for a decade. The deal for fuzes, which are essential and critical components of ammunitions for reliable detonation at a desired time and place, is worth ₹5,336.25 crore.

As part of the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ vision, this contract has been signed for ammunition procurement under ‘Manufacture of Ammunition for Indian Army by Indian Industry’, a government initiative for long-term requirement of 10 years, stated the Ministry. “The aim of the project is to build up ammunition stocks to minimise imports, achieve self-sufficiency in ammunition manufacturing, obtain critical technologies, and secure stock affected by supply chain disruption,” said the MoD.

The Ministry said that electronic fuzes are an integral component of medium- to heavy-calibre artillery guns for providing sustained artillery firepower for military operations. The fuzes will be procured for usage in artillery guns, which are capable of lethal engagements in various kinds of terrains, including high altitude areas along the northern borders.

Electronic fuzes will be manufactured by the BEL at its Pune and upcoming Nagpur plants, it said. The project will generate employment for one-and-half lakh man days and encourage active participation of Indian Industries including MSMEs in ammunition manufacturing and broaden ammunition manufacturing ecosystem in the country.

The Ministry’s decision comes in the backdrop of ordinance factories (OFs) inability to meet the ammunition fuze requirement of the Indian Army. A Comptroller And Auditor General’s (CAG’s) Performance Audit report of December 2019 on “Production of Fuzes in Ordnance Factories”, stated there were mismatches in the availability of empty fuze from in-house production as well as from trade sources and their filling capacity in OFs. The audit of OFs for fuzes covered a time span from 2013-14 to 2017-18. “Major shortfalls in production were noticed for eight types of empty fuzes mainly due to material constraints and quality problems,” the CAG pointed out.

MDL Bags export order

In a boost to defence export, state-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) on Thursday signed a shipbuilding contracts with a European client for construction of three 7,500 DWT multi-purpose hybrid powered vessels at a cost of approximately $ 42 million which works out to Rs 3,489,765,048.

The MDL will be supplying the three vessels to Denmark, with the delivery of the first one will be executed in 27 months after the contracts are executed, said the state-owned company officials. The remaining two will be handed over at intervals of two months. The MDL informed National Stock Exchange of India Limited about the deal on Friday and stated that on October 9, the PSU signed a Letter of Intent with the European client which it did not disclose in the filling.