The Indian Army is running active attempts to provide the soldiers with basic rifles and after a recent purchase of lethal sniper rifles from Italy and the US, India inked a deal to buy 72,400 SIG 716 assault rifles for its frontline soldiers on February 12, 2019.
The initial approval of procurement of buying the 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines from the US was done by the Defence Acquisition Council in January last year, with an estimated cost of Rs 3547 crore. Progressing in the deal, the Indian Army signed a contract with Sig Sauer of the US for fast tract procurement of the weapons on February 12, 2019 and the rifles will be delivered to India within 12 months for immediate induction of most modern technologically advanced and compact 7.62×51 mm Assault Rifle in the Indian infantry.
The basic assault rifles will fulfil the Indian Armed Forces’ need of about 8.16 lakh to replace the existing, glitch-prone 5.56mm INSAS (Indian small arms system) rifles developed by state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for the frontline military troops. Of the 72,400 SIG 716 assault rifles, the Indian Army will get 66,400, the Indian Air Force will receive 4000 and the Indian Navy will receive 2000 American assault rifles along with all the necessary accessories.
Although the procurement of the assault rifle deal had to face a number of delays, the fast tract procurement of a fraction of rifles was the only way to fulfil the critical operational necessity of the armed forces. However, to meet the need of major shortfall with modern weapons for the Indian Army will open up wide market for domestic and international weapon manufacturers – and considering India’s “Make in India” agenda, the government is likely to encourage OFB in Indian private sector and foreign companies to manufacture the weapons within the country in coming days.