NEW DELHI, Feb 12, 2019, The Hindu. 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, reported The Hindu.
“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.
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.
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.
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).