Derailed modernization: Army needs Rs 41,000 crore to make up current deficiencies NEW DELHI: Navy and IAF may be on the modernization track, albeit much slowly than desired, but the Army seems to be floundering. The 1.13-million strong force needs as much as Rs 41,000 crore to even meet its existing shortages in equipment and ammunition. Army has painted a grim picture in its 11th Plan (2007-2012) review, pointing at operational gaps in fields ranging from artillery, aviation, air defence and night-fighting to ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles), PGMs (precision guided munitions) and specialized tank and rifle ammunition, say sources. Holding that the "hollowness" in ammunition and equipment is "still critical", the 11th Plan review to the defence ministry says around Rs 41,000 crore will be required "to make up current deficiencies". "There are critical shortfalls in 'war wastage reserves' (quantity of equipment and ammunition required to fight a war) in several areas," said a source. This when both China and Pakistan, are rapidly modernizing their forces. Incidentally, Indian Army itself has projected the remote but nevertheless plausible eventuality of a simultaneous "two-front war" in a worst-case scenario, as was first reported by TOI earlier. But the force is nowhere near reaching its 100% operational capability, which an earlier projection held would be possible only by end of the 14th Plan in 2027. Take, for instance, ATGMs. While "authorized holding" for these missiles is over 80,000, just about half that number is actually held by infantry, mechanized infantry and armoured corps, say sources. Similarly, the Bofors ghost is yet to be exorcised, with the force failing to induct any new 155mm howitzers since the infamous 1980s scandal. Of the different guns in its over Rs 20,000 crore artillery modernization programme, induction of 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers worth $647 million from the US was finally slated to begin later this year. But the contract is yet to be even inked due to "technical complications". A senior official, however, said, "Deficiencies are being made up. Defence Acquisitions Council and Cabinet Committee on Security have cleared some major contracts in recent times. It will take some time for the equipment and ammunition to reach troops on the ground." Modernization is an ongoing process, with all forces having 30% state-of-the-art, 40% prevailing and 30% outdated technologies. "Equipment in the last 30% bracket is not useless...it can still be used if required," said another official. Arms scandals and blacklisting of foreign armament companies, lack of a robust domestic defence-industrial base, bureaucratic bottle-necks and cumbersome procedures, however, have all contributed to a situation which is fast turning alarming. Though Army has many more ongoing procurement projects, Navy and IAF seem to be doing a much better job of pushing their modernization programmes through MoD labyrinths. "Requisite synergy between Army and MoD's land systems acquisitions wing seems to be somewhat lacking," he said.