New Delhi: Army Chief General VK Singh wrote a letter to the Prime Minister talking about the shocking state of preparedness of the armed forces. The concerns raised by the Army Chief are serious, but are almost an open secret. CNN-IBN in its series 'Battle Ready' has focused on the critical state of affairs. CNN-IBN had reported about the World War II 'vintage' air defence guns in 2009. Sadly, nothing seems to have changed.
In a clear message the Directorate General of Air Defence pressed the panic button. It told the top brass that its Air Defence capabilities were hollow and 97 per cent of its equipment is approaching obsolescence. CNN-IBN has details of the presentation and the facts are shocking. The network, set up to protect the Army field formations and vital installations from air attack has been called vintage and obsolete.
Former Army Chief General (Retired) VP Malik said, "Some of the equipment we have is from the Second World War."
Majority of the Army's air defence equipment had reached its full life. The Kvadrat had been in service for 30 years, which is at least two years over its full life. The L 70 air defence gun formed the backbone. It had been in use for nearly 44 years till 2009. The third on the list was the Schilka, self propelled weapon system which had been in service for 34 years and finally the Twin, a twin barrel gun, had been in service for 31 years.
Some of the systems had been modified cosmetically, but such was the combat inventory that the Army said that some of its Strike Corps could hold nothing by 2010. Former Director General, Infantry, Lt Gen (Retired) Shankar Prasad, "Unfortunately, the DRDO puts a spoke in whatever the defence services want to acquire."
The Army believed it had reached the critical situation because projects like the Trishul and the Aakash either failed or simply did not meet the timeline. Despite the changed threat perception from the air, the gun levels have remained constant over the past three decades.