Report published in the Economist says that despite sheer numbers, Indian military equipment not reliable
Despite being the biggest arms importer and outnumbering its traditional archrival Pakistan by overwhelming proportions, Indian military is haunted by an array of problems, many of which are structural, and lacks the brains to fight a war, according to a damning report by the Economist.
According to an article titled “Guns and Ghee,” which appeared in the popular British magazine, India’s land, air and naval forces lack communication, while most of its firepower looks great only on paper. Citing a report released by IHS Jane in 2014, the Indian Air Force, the fourth largest in the world with around 2,000 aircraft, can rely on only 60 percent of its jets, as the remaining numbers are not fit to fly. A report earlier this year by a government accounting agency estimated that the “serviceability” of the 45 MiG 29K jets that are the pride of the Indian navy’s air arm ranged between 16% and 38%.
“They were intended to fly from the carrier currently under construction, which was ordered more than 15 years ago and was meant to have been launched in 2010. According to the government’s auditors the ship, after some 1,150 modifications, now looks unlikely to sail before 2023,” the report says.
The article notes similar problems with India’s army. “[For] instance, [Indian army] has been seeking a new standard assault rifle since 1982; torn between demands for local production and the temptation of fancy imports, and between doctrines calling for heavier firepower or more versatility, it has flip-flopped ever since,” it notes.
The article goes on to say that India’s air force has spent 16 years perusing fighter aircraft to replace ageing Soviet-era models. However, by demanding over-ambitious specifications, bargain prices, hard-to-meet local content quotas and so on, it has left foreign manufacturers “banging heads against the wall”, in the words of one Indian military analyst. “Four years ago France appeared to have clinched a deal to sell 126 of its Rafale fighters. The order has since been whittled to 36, but is at least about to be finalised,” it says.
“India’s military is also scandal-prone. Corruption has been a problem in the past, and observers rightly wonder how guerrillas manage to penetrate heavily guarded bases repeatedly. Lately, the Indian public has been treated to legal battles between generals over promotions, loud disputes over pay and orders for officers to lose weight,” the report says.
It added that experts have been surprised at how frequently the terrorists are able to break into Indian airbases.
“Despite their growing brawn, India’s armed forces still lack a brain,” the report concludes.