|#1024||2041||June 03, 2013||By Manoj Shergill|
Historically, ammunition for the defence forces has been stored in overground depots/dumps constructed outside the city limits in view of the safety requirements of ammunition storage . However with the expansion of the cities, the ammunition depots are no longer outside the city limits and have substantial civilian population settled on their periphery thus becoming a safety hazard. With the non availability of land for future storage construction and the increase in ammunition inventory for modern weapon systems, as also, the adversaries’ capability to carry out long range strikes on the ammunition stockpiles, it has become imperative to seek other methods of ammunition storage to obviate the increasing constraints of conventional overground storage.
An emerging concept of underground (UG) / tunneled storage of ammunition, as adopted by western countries is gaining ground due to its inherent advantages like:
The concept of UG/ tunneled storage, as opposed to conventional sheds, implies construction of ammunition storage facilities under the surface of the earth. These could be excavated/ natural geological cavities like caves or caverns in the mountains or manmade underground single/multi chambers which are connected to each other .
Apart from providing better logistics on the front in the event of a war, these underground shelters will also ensure that critical war-fighting ordnance is better protected from enemy attacks as well as the weather.
The crucial war-fighting assets like missiles provide NBC (nuclear, chemical, biological) protection without the threat of detection by enemy satellites and spy drones. The military requirement and safety considerations will dictate the design parameters and the number of chambers/caverns needed at each site. The design and construction would also need to factor in adequate safety precautions like automatic smoke detection and alarm system as also suitable dimensions to permit easy movement of transport and personnel within the chambers. In the first phase, ammunition that is expensive and operationally important could be stored in such underground shelters in the operational areas .On successful completion of the pilot project at these two sites, the project would be extended to other storage facilities for the defence forces.
This concept has already been adopted by a number of developed countries and based on their experience,
Ammunition/ missiles form the backbone of a nations fighting force and keeping the omnipresent threat of a NBC backdrop in any future conflict in mind, there is an urgent need to adopt these innovative storage practices to safeguard this expensive and vitally important national asset so that the war waging capabilities are not adversely impacted.
The author is a Senior Fellow at CLAWS.
The views expressed are personal.