11-year wait to buy assault rifles, carbines for armed forces ends
India is all set to buy 72,400 assault rifles and nearly 93,895 carbines to replace the aging Indian New Small Arms System (INSAS), the main stay assault rifles used by the infantry. The rifles will cost Rs 3,547 crore and will be bought on a, “fast track basis to enable,” the forces, “to meet their immediate requirement,” the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said. The Indian Army wants a gun with an integrated sight and laser designator.
The new assault rifles of 7.62mm calibre would replace the indigenously manufactured INSAS-1B1 rifles manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board as the Indian Army has not been happy with them. Army sources said the 5.56mm calibre INSAS rifles were not proving to be very effective against terrorists and troops fighting in Kashmir and Northeast had to rely majorly on Kalashinikovs acquired from Russia and East European countries. The rifles were to be replaced by 2017-2018. However, India has been unable to produce a hand-gun that meets the requirements of its armed forces.
Early January, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat talking to reporters in New Delhi said that assault rifles will be used to equip troops in, “the front-lines.” He said the entire Indian Army, 1.3 million strong, need not be equipped with new rifles.
The army began the process for procuring a Close Quarter Battle (CQB) carbine and assault rifles in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The process to buy the assault rifle tender was, however, scrapped last year after it came to light that only Israeli Weapon Industry (IWI) had met the requirements.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) simplified the Make in India (Make II) procedure, which prescribes guidelines to be followed to develop and manufacture defence equipment through Indian Industry. The DAC also cleared procurement of the assault rifles and carbines on fast track to enable the Defence Forces to meet their immediate requirement for the troops deployed on the borders. Considering that no government funding is involved in Make II project, the DAC simplified the procedure to make it industry friendly, with minimal government control.
Once approved, international companies manufacturing rifles, including Israeli Weapon Industry (IWI), Berretta, Colt, SIG Sauer and CZ could be contacted.
The hunt for CQB carbines will be relaunched now with the army already having rejected the DRDO designed and developed EXCALIBUR rifle. The army also needs to replace the British-origin Sterling 1A1 submachine guns.