Weeks after the Army rejected an indigenously-built assault rifle, the government has decided to speed up the procurement procedure for over 1.85 lakh high calibre guns to replace ageing INSAS rifles. Already nearly 20 gun manufacturers including a number of foreign entities have responded to the request for information (RFI) for the assault guns and steps are being taken to move the procurement process speedily, official sources said.
The Army has been pressing for fast tracking the supply of the 7.62x51 mm guns and particularly sought immediate procurement of at least 65,000 rifles to enhance its fire power in border areas and in counter-terror operations.
The Army is badly in need of the assault rifles and the contract for the guns is likely to be finalised in the next few months. The total value of the contract could be worth approximately Rs 1850 crores.
Last month, it had rejected the 7.62x51 mm guns built by the state-run Ishapore Rifle Factory, citing poor quality and ineffective fire power. The Factory rejected army's assesment saying that they "functioned flawlessly without any stoppages," according to meida reports.
Official sources said there were "excessive number of faults" in the guns manufactured by the rifle factory and "complete redesigning of the magazine" was needed to consider the guns to be used by the Army.
The Army last year had rejected another indigenously-built assault rifle called the 5.56 mm Excalibur guns as it did not meet the required standards.
In its RFI, the Army had specified effective range of the 7.62x51 mm guns at 500 metres, adding they should be as light as possible in weight.
It had also mentioned that the guns should be capable of "fitting and firing" under barrel grenade launcher manufactured by Ordnance Factory, Trichy.
The army still uses INSAS, or Indian Small Arms System rifles, which were inducted around 1988, and are now outdated.
(With PTI inputs)