India to outsource tank repair too private contractors

IDD Bureau

As  a part of its recast into a leaner force, the Indian Army is to  outsource repair and maintenance of some of its fleet of two Russian-origin tanks  — T-72 and T-90 —   to private companies in India.

India operates some 3500 tanks  of these two types, including 1,070 T-90 tanks as well 2,400 T-72 tanks.  Another 464 Russian-origin upgraded T-90 will be inducted from 2022 onwards at a cost of Rs 13,448 crore.

Bids have been invited from private vendors to undertake operations of Delhi-based 505 Army Base Workshop (ABW) under what is called the Government Owned Corporate Operated (GOCO) model.

Once implemented it will reduce the manpower of the Army  involved in repairs as the private sector is matured enough to handle such work.

The first stage of the bid called the Request for Information (RFI), closes June 1, 2020. Read it here.To encourage private sector, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has barred  its own companies called  the Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) and also the Ordnance Factories from bidding in this project.

The Delhi-based 505 Army Base Workshop has historically overhauled and carried out repairs of tanks as well as engines and major/minor assemblies of tanks.

It currently overhauls 70 of the  T-72 tanks annually and its associated engine, assemblies. Form this financial year, the  505 ABW is scheduled to start all these activities for T90 tanks too.

All spares required for the overhaul activity are currently sourced from Ordnance Factories, DPSUs, and also imported from the Russian original equipment makers.

The Army wants the private party to overhaul both the Tanks – the T-72 and T-90 – which will include, repairs including engine and Base repair of major and minor assemblies of these tanks.

The move has come about after a long drawn thought process.  A Committee of Experts (CoE) under the Chairmanship of Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (Retd), was constituted in 2016 to identify and recommend methods to meet the objective of an agile but effective military to meet current and future threats that the country faces.

One of the recommendations of this Committee was  outsourcing  the functioning of the ABWs to private sector players. The MoD had okayed the same.

Who  Can bid

The needs to be registered firm under the Indian Companies Act 2015 or a Partnership firm registered under Indian Partnership Act, 1932. The bidder organization should be operational in India for at least 5 years as on 31 March 2020.

The bidder must not been declared ineligible due to unsatisfactory past performance, corrupt, fraudulent or any other unethical business practices.

What are these Army Base Workshops

These are an important part of the industrial base of Indian Defence forces. Eight Army Base Workshops were established by the British during the Second World War ( 1939-1945) to carry out repairs and overhaul of weapons, vehicles and equipment to keep the Indian Army operationally ready. These ABWs play important role in reset and regeneration of combat capability of Army.  They also undertake manufacture and indigenization of spares.

A repair base in India. File pic

Private players have tie—up

The Russian and JSC Research and Production Corporation ‘UralVagonZavod’ (UVZ) of already has two key partnerships. It has one with the Pune-based Kalyani group for delivery of components for assembly, service and repair of 125-mm smoothbore gun to be used in repair and modernisation of T-72 and T-90 tanks.

The other is tie-up with Punj Corporation Pvt Ltd (PCPL) to undertake repair and maintenance of T-72 and T-90 tank engines and radiators in India. UVZ, makes these tanks in Russia. It has  appointed PCPL as its sole representative to undertake the repair and maintenance work in India.

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