Defence ministry approves procurement of assault rifles, carbines

Defence ministry approves procurement of assault rifles, carbines

Defence ministry approves procurement of assault rifles, carbines

The defence  ministry on Tuesday cleared a Rs 3,547 crore proposal to buy nearly 1.6 lakh assault rifles and carbines to equip infantry troops of the army as well as combatants of the navy and air  force.

The Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, approved procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines on fast track basis to enable the forces to meet their immediate requirement, said a defence ministry official.

A bulk of the purchase would go to the army, which has not been able to buy a modern weapon for years.

As many as 66,400 assault rifles and 89,000 carbines would be given to the army, while the balance would be distributed between the other two services.

This is only the first batch of the order as the total requirement of assault rifles combining all the three services would be nearly 8.1 lakh whereas troops from the three services would require almost four lakh carbines for close quarter battle, sources told DH.

The ministry relaxed the rules making it eligible for private companies from India and abroad to participate in the bid.

"There would be no foreclosure of the project, except on default by the vendor, to ensure that the successful vendor has the assured order,"  said the official.

After a previous attempt to purchase the assault rifles  failed to materialise, the army changed the specifications (GSQR) of these weapons for a fresh purchase.

The new 7.62×51 mm rifles would be having a range of 500-550 m, will weigh less than 4 kg and be fitted with a night vision instruments.

These high-tech rifles would not be given every soldier  in a battalion.

"In a group of 700-750 soldiers, all would not be requiring an assault rifle. So, maybe 400-450 soldiers would be given the new assault rifles and the rest would have the existing weapons," Army chief General Bipin Rawat stated last week, explaining the rationale behind the fast track purchase.

The lightweight 5.56×45 mm carbines, weighing less than 3 kg, on the other hand, would be having a range of nearly 200 m.

The revised procedure would allow the defence ministry to accept suo moto proposals from the industry besides permitting the startups to develop the equipment too.

The service headquarters will set up project facilitation teams to act as an interface between the military and the industry.

The service headquarters will provide the technical inputs, trial infrastructure and other facilities as required by the vendor, said the defence ministry official.