Meeting a long pending demand from Army, the Defense Ministry has cleared proposal to procure around 72,400 assault rifles from the US under fast track mode, official sources said today.
The deal worth $97 million replaces INSAS rifles with SIG716-G2 rifles for the frontline units.
The new rifles will use 7.62 mm ammunition and may be more effective than the indigenous INSAS rifles that use 5.56 mm ammunition and can mark a shift in combat strategies of Indian Army at Jawan level. The 7.62mm ammunition is best for long range combat (upto 800-1000 m) as compared to 5.56mm ammo which can reach upto 600m. The 7.62mm ammo will also be upto three times heavier than 5.56mm as a result soldiers will carry lesser amount of the same. This will imply Indian army is distinctly looking for its core infantrymen to concentrate on the classical war scenario and not on urban scenarios where ‘spray and pray’ methods work.
The rifles are being bought under the fast track procurement procedure therefore “The contract is expected to be finalized within a week. The US firm will have to deliver the rifles within one year from the date of finalising the deal,” added the official.
In October, 2017, the Army began the process to acquire around 7 lakh rifles, 44,000 light machine guns (LMGs) and nearly 44,600 carbines. Around 18 months ago, the Army had rejected an assault rifle built by the state-run Rifle Factory, Ishapore, after the guns miserably failed the firing tests. Following it, the Army started scouting for rifles from the global market.