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Military to get new LMG, Assault and Sniper Rifles

Another set of approvals from DAC to better equip the humble soldier for the existing and future conflicts.

February 15, 2018 By Rohit Srivastava Photo(s): By HQ IDS

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) under the leadership of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on February 13, gave its approval to procurement proposals worth 15,935 crore (USD 2.45 billion), said Ministry in a statement. This will initiate the process to acquire light weapons of various kinds for the three services.

According to the statement, DAC, the apex procurement body of the Ministry Of Defence, has approved procurement of "essential quantity of Light Machine Guns for the three Services through the Fast Track Procedure at an estimated cost of over 1,819 crore (USD 280 million)." and for the balanced quantity another parallel proposal is being worked out under 'Buy and Make (Indian)' category of defence procurement procedure.

In addition, the three services will also get a 7.4 lakh Assault Rifles procured under the 'Buy and Make (Indian)' category of DPP. The 12,280 crore (USD 1.9 billion) project will be jointly executed by the government owned Ordnance Factory Board and Private Industry.

As reported earlier by SP's, on January 16, DAC approved the "procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines on fast track basis for 3,547 crore (USD 545 million) to enable the Defence Forces to meet their immediate requirement for the troops deployed on the borders."

More than million soldiers of Indian army need replacement of indigenous INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifles designed and developed by DRDO and manufactured by Ordnance factory, which have received fair share of criticism from forces, with modern more reliable rifles. In addition to the AR, army also needs more accurate close quarter battle carbines for counter insurgency operations. Currently, they are using Russian Ak-47/56 for anti terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir and North East.

There has been rethinking within the army over the AR's caliber after using the INSAS with 5.56x45 mm, army has now decided to go for a bigger caliber rifles of 7.6x51 mm for more effective fire power.

In his annual press conference, on January 12, Army Chief Bipin Rawat had said that the Army will have two kinds of ARs. "The hi-tech rifles, for instance, will be only for infantry battalions deployed on the front. The bulk of the weapons will have to come through the indigenous route, the ordnance factories or the private industry," General Rawat said.

In another decision, ministry "also approved procurement of 5,719 Sniper Rifles for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force at an estimated cost of 982 crore (USD 151 million). While these high precision weapons will be bought with 'Buy Global' categorisation, the ammunition for these will be initially procured and subsequently manufactured in India."

Lt. Gen. VK Kapoor (Retd), Editor SP's Land Forces, in a comment said, "The recent decision to procure modern small arms will go a long way in improving the fighting capability of the infantry soldier. In past, similar efforts to acquire modern sophisticated small arms have failed and one can hope this time the history will not get repeated. Even the current fast track sanction being 'Buy and make' will take a few years to take shape. In our comparison, adversaries have been equipping their forces with better weapons and we are lagging behind when the challenges are becoming greater."

The DAC also approved the procurement of indigenously developed 'Mareech' Advanced Torpedo Decoy Systems (ATDS) for Indian Navy. The 'Mareech' system will improve the anti-submarine warfare capabilities of Indian naval ships. The ATDS, expected to cost 850 crore (USD 130 million), will be manufactured by the defence public sector major Bharat Electronics Limited.

Mareech, a joint project of Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), Kochi and Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam, offers a complete solution to detect and locate the incoming torpedo and to apply countermeasures to protect naval platform against torpedo attack. On November 14, 2015, then Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar handed over two production grade Mareech systems to Indian Navy.