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The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has cautioned the Indian Army and Ministry of Defence (MoD) that a lack of decision on procurement of Tatra trucks could delay several critical modernisation projects.
In a letter to the Army Chief and senior officers of both the Army and MoD dated October 10, DRDO Chief Controller, Research and Development (Armament and Combat Engineering), S Sundaresh cautioned that finding a replacement for the Tatra platform could delay ongoing projects.
In an annexure to his two-page letter, Sundaresh gave a detailed break-up of the projects and ongoing trials that use the Tatra platform and the estimated delay in case the latter has to be replaced. He put the requirement of trucks at approximately 1,300 for the completed projects and for those in an advanced stage of research. If a new vehicle has to be tested and inducted, there would be a "considerable lack" in timely delivery, the Chief Controller has said.
Among the projects Sundaresh listed as dependent on a Tatra vehicle were mobile bridges — 'Sarvatra' — as well as Pinaka, Brahmos and Akash missiles (for their launch platforms).
The DRDO estimates a delay of three-four years in case of ongoing projects and of one-two years in the case of trial projects. A DRDO spokesperson said: "The DRDO's decision to use Tatra was purely based on the reason that it was an in-service vehicle."
A delay in resolving the impasse could also have an adverse financial impact on Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, the lead integrator for the missile projects.
The procurement of Tatra vehicles was put in abeyance after then Army chief V K Singh alleged that he was offered Rs 14 crore to clear 1,676 of the trucks. Incidentally, highly placed Army sources said that in a file noting, Gen (retd) Singh had written that despite the controversy, "the ongoing projects should continue".