Army to get state-of-the-art US assault rifles amid border rowUpdated: Jul 13, 2020 00:09 IST
At a time when India and China are locked in a border stand-off in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army is laying the groundwork to buy an additional 72,000 Sig Sauer assault rifles for its troops from the United States, people familiar with the development said on Sunday.
This proposed purchase follows an order for 72,400 assault rifles placed with the US last year, and is expected to be made by invoking a key clause in India’s arms buying rules that govern speeding up purchases to meet urgent requirements, said one of the officials cited above.
India signed the previous order worth ₹700 crore in early 2019 and the deliveries of all the rifles have been completed. That order was also made through the fast track procedure (FTP) prescribed in India’s defence procurement rules.
The Sig Sauer rifles are being bought to meet the army’s requirement of a total of 800,000 assault rifles, said a second official. The new assault rifles will gradually replace the flaw-ridden 5.56mm INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifles inducted around 22 years ago.
The remaining requirements of the army will be met through a Make in India project for the local production of AK-203 assault rifles at Amethi’s Korwa, and this procurement is in its final stage with a committee ironing out pricing issues, said a third person, asking not to be named.
The FTP can be invoked in cases where “undue/unforeseen delay” in buying weapons is seen to be adversely impacting the military’s capacity and preparedness.
According to rules, weapons sought under the FTP should already be in the military’s armoury, have been trial evaluated or be in service in foreign militaries so that the time required for evaluation is minimised.
India has also ordered more stocks of Excalibur precision guided munitions from the US for its artillery guns, while Russia assured swifter delivery of weapons and ammunition during defence minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Moscow last month.