INDIA has signed an agreement with US-based defence firm Sig Sauer for purchasing 72,400 assault rifles at a total cost of INR 647 crore. These will be procured through the fast track procedures. The 7.62×51 mm Sig Sauer rifles would replace the 5.56×45 mm Insas rifles being used by the Indian defence forces. The time frame for the supply of the whole consignment is 12 months from the signing of contract, an official statement said.The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by the Defence Minister, had accorded the Acceptance of Necessity for the rifles on January 16 last year, reports ANI.The authorities were looking for rifles that would be “compact, robust, modern in technology and simple to maintain in field conditions after rejecting the assault rifle about 18 months ago made by the state-run Ishapur Rifle Factory located in West Bengal after they badly failed in the firing tests. The Army would be provided 66,400, while the Navy will get 2,000 and the Air Force 4,000.new assault rifles. The rifles are currently used by US forces as well as several other European countries. As part of the agreement, India will get around 72,400 7.62mm rifles from US firm SiG Sauer in one year from this day, confirmed official sources. The Indian Armed Forces are currently equipped with 5.56×45 mm INSAS Rifle. There is an urgent requirement for replacing the in-service 5.56X45 mm INSAS Rifle with a 7.62X51mm Assault Rifle which is compact, robust, modern in technology and simple to maintain in field conditions. Incidentally, India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had earlier approved the procurement of the Sig Sauer rifles for the troops deployed along the nearly 3,600-km border with China. In October 2017, the Army began the process to acquire around 7 lakh rifles, 44,000 light machine guns (LMGs) and nearly 44,600 carbines. The Hindu reports 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).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 INR 3,547 crore on fast track basis. The assault rifles are of 7.62mm calibre while the Carbines will be of 5.56mm calibre. The deal for carbines is in an advanced stage.
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