Weapons guarantee failure

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 November, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 November, 1994, 12:00am

INDIA'S plans to buy 100,000 desperately needed AK47 assault rifles have still not materialised, 18 months after the Ministry of Defence floated tenders for them.

Military sources said the suppliers, the Bulgarian Defence Ministry, had been unable to provide a performance guarantee for 10 per cent of the total contract value of about US$6.5 million (HK$50.21 million).

A performance guarantee is compulsory for all such purchases as insurance against product quality.

The Indian Army which uses the obsolete and heavy 7.62mm range of weapons, is anxious to switch to the Kalashnikov series until its own range of 5.56mm weapons becomes operational.

Competing against suppliers from Poland, Russia and Romania, the Bulgarian ministry bid the lowest, agreeing to supply 100,000 rifles at US$65 each.

Bulgaria is believed to be anxious to renegotiate terms as it has neither the funds for a performance guarantee nor the weapons.

Armaments trade sources said Bulgaria planned to acquire the weapons from other manufacturers in a separate agreement, as its factories were unable to provide the number required by India.

It entered into an agreement with a former Soviet Republic last year to make up the shortfall.

However, delays by India in finalising the contract, led to a diversification of the rifles to trouble spots in Africa and other Commonwealth states.

This led to a crisis for Bulgaria and a further, delay in issuing rifles to Indian soldiers.