Scope of the exercise is to conduct sub-unit level operations in counter terrorism
At the ongoing India-Uzbek exercise Dustlik-II at Ranikhet, Uzbek troops learnt the handling of SIG-716 assault rifles, recently inducted into service by the Army and also got orientation in slithering from helicopters for heli-borne operations in a counter terrorist (CT) environment.
“As far as weapons are concerned we have Sig Sauer rifles… we are sharing our weapons with the Uzbek troops. At present Uzbek troops are learning firing from Sig Sauer rifles,” Col. Amit Malik, Commanding Officer of the 13 Kumaon Regiment, nominated for the exercise from the Indian side, told visiting journalists at Chaubatia near Ranikhet.
The Uzbek Army primarily uses the AK series of rifles.
The scope of the exercise is to conduct sub-unit level operations in CT role under United Nations (U.N.) mandate, Col. Malik said adding in the first two days both sides shared each others drills, demonstrations and best practices. “We are also showcasing our technological advancements… They shared their survival skills with us.”
The Regiment is famously known as Rezang La battalion for its heroics in the battle of Rezang La in the 1962 war with China.
The Army has procured 72,400 SIG-716 rifles from Sig Sauer of the U.S. under fast-track procurement and deliveries were completed. Most of the infantry units have since received the rifles in small numbers.
The SIG-716 weighing 3.82 kg and has an effective range of 600m and is more capable and reliable than the INSAS in use, a soldier at the firing range explained. It also employs the heavier calibre 7.62 mm ammunition compared to the 5.56mm of the INSAS. It is a shoot to kill, the soldier said.
Last September, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had approved the procurement of a second batch of 72,400 SIG-716 rifles.
The SIG-716 is meant to replace the INSAS rifles in use and repeated attempts by the Army to procure new rifles had failed. The Army is in urgent need of a range of small arms — assault rifles, close quarter carbines, Light Machine Guns (LMG) and sniper rifles.
Separately, the Army is in the process of inducting 6000 Negev LMGs from Israel as part of the 16,497 LMGs contracted in March 2020 under fast track procurement.
The validation exercise includes heli-borne special operations using a Mi-17 helicopter to insert troops into a CT environment.
“We are trying to showcase the challenges faced in CT operations,” said Col. Malik. Specifically we are focusing on Cordon and Search Operations (CASO), search and destroy operations and raids in jungle hideouts among others, he said.
Head of the 45-member Uzbek contingent Colonel Namilov Azizbek Boxriddinovich speaking through a translator Sergeant Nigmatov Bahodir Norkhujaevich said the facilities at Chaubatia were very good and the two Armies were exchanging best practices. All conditions are very good for Uzbekistan soldiers, he said.
The Uzbek Deputy Defence Minister and the Uzbek Ambassador in India are scheduled to attend the validation exercise and closing ceremony. A Lieutenant General rank officer will be present from the Indian side.
The Uzbek contingent arrived in India on March 7 and the exercise began on March 10. The validation exercise is scheduled on March 17 and 18 and the closing ceremony on March 19.
The Uzbek contingent will leave on March 21 after visiting the Taj Mahal which according to Col. Amit was specifically requested by the Uzbek side.
The firing practice was aided by a smart target system manufactured by an Indian company, Zen Technologies. According to the company the system is an electro-mechanical, software driven, acoustical projectile detection and reporting system for small arms.
On the smart target system, Col. Boxriddinovich said the system was different from what they used but was very useful and gave immediate results.
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