The fate of the long awaited procurement of 93,895 close-quarter-battle carbines (CQB) a deal worth $ 553.33 mn which has been put on Fast Track Procurement (FTP) could not be decided at the by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting today.
The DAC meeting which took place today headed by the defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not take a decision related to the procurement. These carbines will be made in India under the Make in India initiative.
Earlier in the day, speaking to Financial Express Online on condition of anonymity, a senior officer said, “If the DAC clears it today, there is still a long way to go. And it cannot be finalised overnight. The approval by the DAC is basically `approval in principle’.”
The Indian Army which needs close to five lakh CQBs has been waiting for these for a long time to be finalised. The CQB procurement has been stuck due to complaints from some of the vendors who have registered their protests with the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The MoD at one point was mulling issuing a fresh request for proposal (RfP) for the procurement of 93,895 close-quarter-battle carbines (CQB).
The Financial Express Online has been closely tracking the CQBs procurement process which has got stuck after as the bidders who were not down selected complained to the MoD against the UAE based company Caracal which was the lowest bidders for the CQBs.
Sources have said that a nine-member committee headed by an Army brigadier has been receiving complaints regarding non compliance of Caracal of UAE from French Company Thales and S&T Motiv of South Korea.
The UAE Company has been accused by other bidders of not conforming to the format of responding to the earlier RfP, and there were certain discrepancies in the response by the company and it did not reflect in the bid format which is used for determination of L1 vendor.
According to sources, the MoD has seen these complaints and has been in touch with the nine member team which had visited the facilities of the companies who had responded to the bid. These companies were invited for extensive trials only after the nine member team was satisfied with the facilities they had visited. These companies went through trials both in India and in their home country and Indian ammunition were used and tested in different terrains and temperature.
The South Korean Company S&T Motiv, producers of small arms for the last four decades confirmed that besides offering to transfer of complete technology to their Indian counterpart Reliance Armaments they were ready to set up a manufacturing base in India for producing the CQBs under Make in India initiative.
The Indian Army, has been pushing for replacing its old ‘INSAS’ rifles, as there are reliability issues and the situation on the borders are changing.