April 22, 2021
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Igniting kit
Indian military to buy 17,000 ammunition fuzes

Indian military is planning to buy thousands of ammunition fuze from Fuchs of South Africa after Ministry of Defence (MoD) overruled anonymous complaints regarding irregularity in the deal.

India is keen to buy these fuzes from Fuchs Electronics on an urgent manner and the first slot order could be 8,000 on a trial basis and subsequently the second and third slots are expected to stand at 4,000 each or more depending upon the requirement.

But the whole deal could lead to a complication if necessary steps are not taken as the South African company has faced probe in the past over similar issues and MoD observers said that this deal may end up in a similar fashion.

Already, some Members of Parliament have been informed about the MoD decision to buy fuzes in a discreet manner from the South African company.   

In this deal, the Fuchs Electronics is having a tie up with Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) which is not a Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) and in the past there are several allegations about irregularities.

Indian military needs ammunition fuze to place them in rockets, missiles, shells, bombs and other ammunitions to safeguard them from mishandling and cause fusion when necessary.

These ammunition are filled with explosives which create risk of explosion during handling, storage and launching. This necessitates the incorporation of some safety device in these ammunitions.

Indeed, fuzes are the devices attached to ammunition for the purpose of safe keeping, arming and firing. Basic function of the fuze is to fire the ammunition when desired and ensure safety during other times.

Therefore, the fuze is also referred to as the brain of the ammunition. The basic functions of the fuzes are causing ignition as and when the shells land in enemy territory.   

The ECIL has successfully become the only vendor to supply fuzes at a high cost as the MoD has sidelined other private and foreign vendors for the purpose who had promised a better price and high quality.

Earlier, in a single-vendor situation, the MoD has ordered 4,00,000 fuzes, worth over Rs 200 crores, from ECIL, citing urgent military needs but later it was found that the prices are quite high and quality is not of global standard.

Some MoD insiders have raised that Fuchs Electronics has supplied fuzes to Pakistan in the past and this could be a security risk for India as the enemy will come to know about Indian defence preparedness.

Indian private fuze manufacturers had given better pricing and improved technological parameter for the electronic fuze needs of the Artillery Branch of the Army Headquarters but their proposal was rejected.

Both Hyderabad-based HBL Defence Electronics and Delhi-based Micron Instruments Pvt Ltd are having enormous expertise in fuze manufacturing.