Indian Army Assault Rifles – Decadal Dilemma Now Over | Security Risks Asia Made with Humane Club

Indian Army Assault Rifles – Decadal Dilemma Now Over

Published Jun 06, 2019
Updated Apr 14, 2020

The Indian Army was struggling with procurement of an assault rifle to arm almost one million front line soldiers as a replacement of the 5.56 INSAS which was seen as having outlived the potential.

More over the INSAS was found unsuitable for close combat in counter insurgency and terrorist operations which had led to the Army procuring the famous AK 47 and other similar variants from Russia and Bulgaria.

The AK has proved its worth being extensively used to outlast terrorists mainly in Jammu and Kashmir where the INSAS was found to be too long for quick handling and rapid shooting.

After fiddling with GSQRs for a long period from the utopian twin barrel to shoot to injure 5.56 and now shoot to kill 7.62, finally a firm plan appears to be in place for procuring the desired number of modern fire arms for the foot soldier.

Ministry of Defence issued initial tenders or RFPs (requests for proposal) for 72,400 assault rifles, 93,895 CQB carbines and 16,479 light machine guns, which will together cost an estimated Rs 5,366 crore to selected foreign armament companies under Fast Track Procurement (FTP)

Of these the procurement of assault rifles has progressed with selection of manufacturer

The choice made is of that of 72,400 from US firm Sig Sauer under the Fast Track Programme and 750,000 AK 203 from Russia.

As per the Sig Sauer company web site, combining the reliability and ergonomics of the SIG516 series rifle with the more powerful 7.62mm cartridge, the SIG716 G2 features a short-stroke pushrod gas system.

This advanced operating system reduces carbon fouling, excessive heat and unburned powder in the action, ensuring reliability and function that is unmatched.

The SIG716 G2 comes standard with 6-position stock and polymer grip for the ultimate in ergonomic adaptability.

A free-floating, aluminium, key mod hand guard with full-length integrated top rail provides quick mounting for optics and accessories. Additionally, the ambidextrous controls round out the ergonomic features. Utilizing the short stroke piston-driven operating system, an M1913 Mil-Std rail, free-floating barrel, aluminium fore end, and telescoping stock, the SIG716 is the rifle of choice when the power of a larger caliber carbine is required.

The larger tranche of AK 203 will be procured under the Buy and Make (India) programme which implies part purchase off the shelf/factory from Russia, [40,000] and the rest to be manufactured by a joint venture at the Ordnance Factory in Korwa, Amethi Uttar Pradesh.

The AK 203 is being procured under Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia by a joint firm Indo Russia Rifles with 50.5 per cent equity stake by the Ordnance Factor Board and the balance by the Russian partner, Kalashnikov Concern.

The RFI for procuring 650,000 quantity of 7.62 x 39mm Assault Rifles with lethality to achieve the objective of ‘Shoot to Kill’ saw considerable dilution of the requirements based on the survey carried out and the criteria laid down were a range of minimum 300 meters.

Lethality i up to minimum 300 meters range in terms of wound profile, energy transferred and penetration. The recoil should be duly optimized to provide maximum comfort to the firer and shoot consistently with accuracy.

The rifle should be capable of achieving accuracy better than 03 Minutes of Angle (MOA).

Compatibility with all modern day and night sights, and accessories and provision for mounting the same on Mil Std 1913 compliant 360° Picatinny Rails is also required. In terms of design, metallurgy and performance parameters, the rifle and sight shall be ‘State of the Art’

The IGA with Russia was an option that is seen to be practical as well as reliable.

This has also given the Russian firm Kalashnikov Concern, a strong foothold in the Indian small arms market which has almost 2 million potential in the long run if the requirement of central and state police is also taken into consideration.

The Indian Army is now also planning to conduct trial of the AK 203 for use as a carbine in counter insurgency role as per reports in the media.

The plans to procure the large as well as FTP of carbines and LMGs continues to marred by delays