Ordnance factory readies assault rifle for Army

Ordnance factory readies assault rifle for Army

Out of the total requirement close to 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines are to be procured on fast track basis. PTI file photo for representation.

With the Defence Ministry looking for suitable manufacturers to buy lakhs of carbines and assault rifles for the soldiers, the Ordnance Factory Board has come out with indigenous versions of both weapons, which would be ready for demonstration by August.

The OFB develops the two weapons at a time when a nine-member team of senior Army officers are trotting the globe to buy more than 1.6 lakh personal weapons (assault rifles and carbines together) through an emergency procurement route.

The armed forces require 8.1 lakh assault rifles for the three services, out of which Army alone needs 7.6 lakh rifles to replace the previous generation home-made Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) that reported several snags over the years.

Earlier this year, the defence ministry approved a plan to procure nearly 8.1 lakh assault rifles and almost four lakh carbines for close quarter battle.

Out of the total requirement close to 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines are to be procured on fast track basis to enable the forces to meet their immediate requirement.

Of the remaining 7.3 lakh assault rifles, OFB is assured of an order of 1.8 lakh rifles, if the weapon satisfies the army. The board can also make a bid for the remaining 5.5 lakh rifles for which a Request for Information was floated by the Army headquarters in February 2018.

The Rifle Factory, Ischapore – one of the OFB units – is in the process of manufacturing 30 prototype assault rifles under the guidance of a project monitoring team headed by director general infantry at the Army headquarters. “These should be ready for demonstration within August,” a source told DH.

Almost at the same same time the joint venture protective carbine – developed and manufactured by Small Arms Factory, Kanpur in collaboration with the Pune-based DRDO unit, Armament Research and Development Establishment – would be ready too for a demonostration trial.

Out of nearly three lakh carbines that the Defence Ministry would finally buy, OFB will have an assured order of 25% of the required number, provided it can come up with a gun that meets the Army's quality specifications.

“The indigenous carbine weighs 2.96 kg, has a retractable butt and meets the Army norms on accuracy, penetration and lethality,” said an official.

The plan to equip the infantry soldiers with modern assault rifles and carbines are stuck for years as the Defence Ministry in both cases issued a Request for Proposal (tender) and after 5-6 years of design, development and negotiations with the vendors, retracted the tender leaving the soldiers with old weapons.

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