India's Ministry of Defence has decided to halt the procurement process related to critical equipment for the nation's infantry and navy due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
A notification issued by the defence ministry said that it has extended the last date for the submission of responses to tenders for defence capital acquisition, given the current situation regarding COVID-19.
“In view of extra-ordinary circumstances, it has been decided by the competent authority to extend all dates of bid submission and Request for Information/ Expression of Interest responses due in March/April 2020 to May 2020,” an order issued by the ministry reads.
The Indian Army had aimed to close the tenders worth over $10 billion such as man-portable loitering munition systems, assault rifles, light machine guns, armoured vehicles, etc., which are crucial for the country’s limited war capability. Loitering munition systems play a crucial role in destroying enemy targets near the border without venturing into the enemy's firing range.
The kinetic energy penetrator Armour-Piercing Fin-Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) is among other capital acquisition plans, and is the primary ammunition of any armoured regiment.
The decision to postpone the dates for every tender was made after industry associations approached the ministry and claimed that attending meetings with officials would be difficult amid the coronavirus outbreak.
On Monday, the Indian Army issued fresh instructions to all military establishments, cantonments, formations and units in 82 districts throughout the country which are under lockdown. The Indian Army has restricted movement in cantonments and military stations across the country.
“Only bare essential sections/offices to function on a daily basis. Work from home to be implemented. Routine meetings and movements to be restricted,” the army's instructions read.
The army last week reported its first case of coronavirus after a soldier in Leh – a region bordering China – tested positive. The Indian health ministry reported a total of 492 positive cases of coronavirus on Tuesday.
The government has announced a complete shut-down of flight services in the country while 32 out of 36 states/territories have been put under lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic.