By Asiri Fernando/The Morning
Colombo, June 4: The Government of Sri Lanka is in discussions with India to establish a small arms ammunition manufacturing plant, The Sunday Morning reliably learns.
Over the last several decades, Sri Lanka has held talks with several countries on establishing a domestic ammunition industry, but none have been successful.
According to a source close to the matter, discussions between the Indian Ocean neighbours have been ongoing for months, with several delegations visiting both countries to grasp the industrial process and ground situation.
When contacted, State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon acknowledged that talks were underway to establish a small arms ammunition plant in Sri Lanka, but would not comment on the country with which discussions were being held.
“We are in the process of discussing establishing a small arms ammunition plant in Sri Lanka in 2024-’25. This has been a long-felt need. The Sri Lankan forces primarily use 7.62 mm ammunition for rifles and 9 mm for pistols. As such, the aim is to manufacture our small arms ammunition requirement domestically,” Minister Tennakoon said.
According to him, the armed forces and police annually import between 30 – 50 million rounds of small arms ammunition for training, qualifications and to maintain proficiency.
The Sri Lankan armed forces predominantly use the Type 56 (T56) assault rifle, chambered for 7.62 x 39 mm cartridges and a range of pistols chambered for 9 mm cartridges.
Sri Lanka is currently reviewing its defence and security posture, with a panel of experts appointed to formulate a report and national security policy.
It is expected that the armed forces and security apparatus will be restructured and ‘right-sized’ following the review.
The Ministry of Defence has already announced that the Sri Lanka Army, the largest manpower component of the Defence portfolio, will be right-sized to approximately 100,000 by 2030.
Sri Lanka’s continued high defence expenditure has been widely criticised by economists and policymakers as unsustainable.