August 1st, 2017
In a damning report, the CAG told Parliament on Friday, 28 July, strategic missile systems of the Indian Air Force (IAF) designed for the India-China border have not been inducted till now, even after a delay of four years.
Based on the threat perception, according to the report, the government in 2010 had envisaged induction of strategic missile system for the IAF in the ‘S’ sector to create deterrence. This deterrence capability was planned to be put in place between June 2013 and December 2015 in a phased manner but till date, even after four years, this urgently needed capability has not been created and the strategic objective remains unachieved.
While the CAG report does not explicitly mention the kind of missiles, they indicate the indigenously-built Akash surface-to-air (SAR) missiles. They were meant to be installed in the vulnerable Siliguri Corridor (the so-called “Chicken’s Neck”), the vulnerable, narrow strip of land that connects North-east India with West Bengal, with Nepal and Bangladesh straddling the borders.
Besides criticising the delay in induction of the crucial missiles, the CAG report detailed the quality mismanagement and loopholes of the missiles As much as 30% of the missiles have been found to be faulty.
The report comes at a time when the Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in a tense stand-off at Doklam in Bhutan between Indian and Chinese, only a few kilometres away from the Siliguri Corridor.
The entire report can be read here.
The CAG report: salient points
- Preliminary failure analysis report revealed the missiles fell short of the target, had lower than the required velocity and there was also malfunctioning of critical units.
- The missile systems were to be installed at six designated sites in the Northeast between 2013 and 2015. But till date, none of the missile systems have been installed.
- Out of 80 missiles received up to November 2014, 20 missiles were test fired during April-November 2014. Six of these missiles, which is 30%, failed the test.
- Two of the missiles failed to even take off. These deficiencies pose an operational risk during hostilities.
- The lifespan of some missiles had expired by March 2017.
- Delay in civil works at the sites pushed the installation of the missile systems behind schedule. The CAG rejected the IAF’s argument that the delay in commissioning of missile system was related to non-availability of infrastructure.
Ongoing India-China stand-off
The CAG report comes at a grim time when the Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in a tense stand-off at Doklam, which is a stone’s throw from the Siliguri Corridor.
In the first week of June, tensions mounted in the north-eastern state of Sikkim after a scuffle broke out between the Indian army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – the armed forces of the Communist Party of China. The latter intruded into Indian territory, destroyed two bunkers and obstructed a batch of pilgrims headed for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.
The Logical Indian take
The CAG report should be an eye-opener for the government. The fact that crucial anti-China missiles were left uninstalled for four whole years even as the border conflict escalated into a tense stand-off is completely unacceptable (and another reason why we need a full-time Defence Minister).
The Siliguri Corridor is a particular defence weakness for India due to its size and shape. The Akash missiles were commissioned with the intention of securing this strip of land against any Chinese aggression. Now, because of the government’s lethargy and irresponsibility, not only have the missiles being uninstalled, they are also rotting away. Several missiles expired earlier this year and almost a third of the missiles tested failed.
The Logical Indian community demands that the government wake up and take action immediately. Our defence infrastructure should be updated and the SAR missiles in the North-east should be installed without delay. And such dangerous tresspasses should never be allowed to happen again; they are a stain on India’s image and a threat to national security.