Amid the ongoing India-China border dispute along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan valley, the Indian Army will get 73,000 Sig Sauer 716 assault rifles from the US.
With no certainty of when the dispute will likely be resolved, a second order of the rifles has been placed over and above the 72,400 assault rifles already purchased from Sig Sauer.
“We are going to place an order for 72,000 more of these rifles under the financial powers granted to the armed forces,” Defence sources had earlier told ANI. “A contract is expected soon. The US firm will have to deliver the rifles within a year from the date of finalising the deal,” confirmed a defence official earlier.
The order was cleared today by the Defence Ministry’s Services Capital Acquisition Plan Categorisation Higher Committee (SCAPCHC) and is worth Rs 800 crore.
The Sig Sauer 716 assault rifles are meant to replace the indigenous Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56x45mm rifles used by the forces and manufactured locally by the Ordnance Factories Board, that came to the infantry about 20 years ago. Since this is a repeat order, there will be no need for trials and cost negotiation, which can often be a time-consuming process.
As per the plan, around 1.5 lakh imported rifles are to be used by the troops in the counter-terrorism operations and frontline duties on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir which are called Battle or Border Action Team (BAT) attacks. The remaining forces would be equipped with the AK-203 rifles, which are to be produced jointly by India and Russia at Amethi ordnance factory.
Even with the ongoing process of disengagement through military and diplomatic channels, it is still uncertain when the India-China dispute will get fully resolved. Such military order of rifles is likely to boost the capabilities of the Army’s infantry unit.