SP's LandForces - - NEWS IN BRIEF -

Media re­ported in late May 2015 that the pro­posed mega pro­ject for the as­sault ri­fles for its 1.18 mil­lion strong army, with in­ter­change­able bar­rels for con­ven­tional war­fare and counter-in­sur­gency oper­a­tions, was on the verge of be­ing scrapped since it had run into ma­jor prob­lems. It has now been con­firmed as per media re­ports on July 2, 2015. The firms that had par­tic­i­pated in the ex­ten­sive tri­als-Colt (US), Beretta (Italy), Ceska (Czech) and Is­rael Weapon In­dus­tries (IWI)—have been told that the pro­posed con­tract was be­ing re­tracted. This is a yet another blow to the In­dian Army’s ur­gently re­quired weapons. The ba­sic weapon of the in­fantry­man which is the as­sault ri­fle needs im­me­di­ate re­place­ment. Army has had a long-stand­ing de­mand for new ri­fles to re­place the 5.56mm in­dige­nous IN­SAS guns, which have suf­fered from tech­ni­cal bugs since their in­duc­tion in 1994-95.

As per the now-can­celled pro­ject, 65,000 ri­fles were to be di­rectly ac­quired from the se­lected for­eign ven­dor to equip the 120 in­fantry bat­tal­ions de­ployed on the western and eastern fronts. The Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) was to then sub­se­quently man­u­fac­ture over 1,13,000 such ri­fles af­ter get­ting trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy from the for­eign com­pany. But the pro­posal for the new ri­fles—with a 5.56 x 45mm pri­mary bar­rel for con­ven­tional war­fare and a 7.62 x 39mm sec­ondary one for counter-terror oper­a­tions—was found “im­prac­ti­cal“both in terms of high costs and tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments, said sources. The plan now is to ei­ther get a for­eign arms com­pany to shift some of its man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties to In­dia or task the OFB to man­u­fac­ture the new as­sault ri­fles with for­eign col­lab­o­ra­tion.

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