Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reportedly requested his German counterpart Boris Pistorius, during Tuesday’s bilateral meeting, to intervene and clear hurdles frustrating supply of large volume of spares and sub-systems that the Indian industry ordered since last year. The trade restrictions have delayed maintenance and production of military hardware like tanks and submarines, sources aware of the talks told businessline .

Purchase orders from the private as well as public defence companies are stuck since at least last nine months due to reservations of German’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA), a central licensing authority that clears consignments after weighing them against their own foreign and security policy interests.

Rajnath Singh urged Boris Pistorius to resolve hindrances emerging out of the regulatory mechanism for ease of doing business among the two countries, sources privy to talks stated. The Indian defence industry, impacted due to BAFA, has been complaining for long to the Ministry of Defence, which prompted Singh to raise the issue during the bilateral meeting held here, sources said .

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Spares stuck

Anything which the industry buys, even small parts has to pass through BAFA, sources explained. Engine of Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun used by Indian Army is sourced from Germany. Similarly, four submarines commissioned by Indian Navy were originally made by Germany’s HDW yard. The Indian industry is facing problems in getting spares on both the counts, sources in the know of bilateral trade details said.

Four Shishumar-class vessels (Type 1500) diesel-electric submarines, developed by the HDW, were commissioned into Indian Navy between 1986 and 1994. While the first two of these vessels were built by HDW at Kiel, the remaining two were constructed at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), Mumbai. “The refit spares of the submarines are stuck in Germany,” sources pointed out.

Defence PSUs like MDL that has built HDW submarines, and Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) -- an Ordnance Factory Board company merged with Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited in 2021 post Centre’s decision to corporatise government units -- which manufactures MBT Arjun, are facing the heat along with leading private players such as Larsen & Tubro (L&T), Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Bharat Forge because of hindrances in supply chain, informed sources.

On Tuesday, the industry delegation of India and Germany also met to explore business opportunities. Among the German defence industry representatives who accompanied with Pistorius were CEOs of Airbus and Rolls Royce MTU.