The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Israel venture over Left protest

New Delhi, July 28: Overriding concerns voiced by the Left, the defence ministry is preparing to enter into a first-ever joint venture with Israel to manufacture “cargo ammunition”.

The joint venture is proposed between the Khamaria ordnance factory near Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh and Israel Military Industries (IMI), a public sector company.

With Israel pounding Lebanon every day, and thousands of Indians being evacuated, the Left parties are almost certain to raise a stink over the plan.

The venture will also signal the arrival of foreign direct investment in defence since new policies governing involvement of industry in the manufacture of military products were framed last year. The estimated cost of the project is being kept under wraps by the ministry.

“Cargo ammunition”, a senior defence official explained, is an explosive for rounds to be fired from both artillery guns and tanks and would be designed to spread damage and maim the enemy over a large area.

This is what the IMI says of the weapon on its website: “The effect of an artillery weapon system on the battlefield depends on the type of ordnance employed against enemy forces. Cargo ammunition of various calibres will dramatically enhance the importance of artillery on the battlefield. The procurement of cargo ammunition is vital for the modern artillery corps. This ensures its operational readiness, while at the same time extending its deterrent power.”

IMI’s cargo projectiles contain the M85 dual-purpose (anti-personnel and anti-armour) bomblets,with a unique self-destruct fuse that ensures virtually no hazardous duds, the website says.

The description of the product, according to the IMI, is “120mm dual purpose improved conventional munition mortar cargo ammunition”.

IMI has also exported the ammunition or entered into manufacturing agreements for the weapon in at least one other country.

Israel’s current offensives against the Hizbollah in Lebanon and against the Hamas in the Gaza Strip have stirred controversy for, among other reasons, a new type of weapon being used in its firepower. The Israeli defence forces are reported to have used explosives that have high chemical content and cause lacerations and incapacitate adversaries by forcing amputations of the lower limbs.

The Khamaria factory is one of the most modern of its type with a “wireless” shopfloor.

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