Last January, the Defence Acquisition Council approved initial approval for the procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines at an estimated cost of ₹3,547 crore on fast track basis.
After repeated attempts to equip the infantry soldier with a basic rifle, the Army on February 12 signed a contract with Sig Sauer of the U.S. for 72,400 SIG 716 assault rifles for the frontline soldier deployed in operational areas.
“A contract for procurement of 72,400 assault rifles through Fast Track Procurement (FTP) was signed with Sig Sauer of U.S. on February 12,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
Of the 72,400 rifles, 66.400 are for the Army, 2,000 for the Navy and 4,000 for the Indian Air Force. The broad parameters for the assault rifle are an effective range of 500m and weigh less than 3kg. The entire quantity would be delivered within 12 months from the date of signing the contract.
According to information on the company website, the SIG 716 features an improved gas system, lightweight handguard, and an overall weight reduction of more than two pounds and weighs 3.9 kg. The deal for carbines is also in an advanced stage.
The SIG 716 features an improved gas system, lightweight handguard, and an overall weight reduction of more than two pounds and weighs 3.9 kg. Photo: YouTube/SIG SAUER
However, these are only a small part of the small arms requirement of the Army. The new assault rifles will replace the indigenous INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) rifles in use and are meant for troops deployed in forward and counter insurgency areas.
Separate tenders are under way for 5.5 lakh assault rifles and 3.5 lakh carbines, bulk of them to be procured from the Indian industry under ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ category and a small share from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
In January 2018, the Defence Acquisition Council approved initial approval for the procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines at an estimated cost of ₹3,547 crore on fast track basis. The assault rifles are of 7.62mm calibre while the Carbines will be of 5.56mm calibre. The deal for carbines is in an advanced stage.
Navy’s utility helicopter deal moves a step forward
The Defence Ministry has also issued Expression of Interest (EoI) to Indian and foreign companies for the Navy’s 111 Naval Utility helicopters (NUH) deal. This is the first project to be executed through the Strategic Partnership policy.
Under the SP model, the selected Indian private company will team with the OEM to build the platforms in India.
The EoI is the next step after a Request for Information (RFI) and based on the responses the Navy would issue a detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) likely towards the end of third quarter of this year to shortlisted Indian companies. The NUH will replace the ageing Chetak fleet of the Navy.
Indian companies likely to participate are Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and Reliance Infrastructure and the likely foreign OEMs are Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopters and RoE of Russia.
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