Defence ministry clears proposal to procure 7.40 lakh assault rifles

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 15, 2018

The Indian Army has been pressuring to fast-track the procurement of the weapons considering the threats from bordering Pakistan and China.

The Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, cleared acquisition proposals worth ₹15,935 crore on Tuesday.

Eleven years ago, the Indian Armed forces had flagged the need for new guns.

The rifles will be produced in India under by both state-run Ordnance Factory Board and private sector.

At the meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) - the ministry's apex body on procurement - the proposal to purchase 7.40 lakh assault rifles, 5,719 sniper rifles and light machine guns got the clearance. The total cost of these two deals is Rs 3,547 crore. Indian Army has been trying to replace its glitch-prone INSAAS rifles for its soldiers for many years. The new rifle will be 7.62 calibre, meaning the rifle can fire bigger ammunition at a range of 500 metres.

"Since a state-of-the-art assault rifle will cost about Rs 200,000 each in the global market, let us issue these only to frontline infantry soldiers who confront the enemy armed only with their rifles", army chief, General Bipin Rawat had told Business Standard in November.

The defence ministry has gone through several long-running acquisition processes for assault rifles and carbines but cancelled them all, most recently past year.

In the wake of two back to back terror strikes at Indian army camps, the country's defense ministry has chose to shore up the infantry's weapons stock.

The carbines are seen as replacement for the Russian made AK-47 assault rifles. The Army, however, needs another 3.25 lakh carbines. This procurement will meet the operational requirement of the troops deployed on the borders. "A concurrent proposal is being processed for the balance quantity to be procured under the 'Buy and Make (Indian)' categorisation", the Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated.

The third proposal approved is for the procurement of 5719 sniper rifles for the army and the air force at an estimated cost of INR 982 crore (US$152 million).

While these will be bought from worldwide manufacturers under the "buy global" category the ammunition will be initially procured from them but later manufactured in India.

Meanwhile, the procurement of the indigenous "Mareech" advanced torpedo decoy systems (ATDS) which was developed by DRDO and has already successfully completed extensive trials was also approved by the DAC.

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