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  India   All India  22 Jan 2017  Army reels under acute shortage of quality guns

Army reels under acute shortage of quality guns

THE ASIAN AGE. | SANJIB KR BARUAH
Published : Jan 22, 2017, 4:19 am IST
Updated : Jan 22, 2017, 5:04 am IST

There are several complaints against the 5.56mm Insas that was introduced as the basic soldier’s hand weapon in 1990.

Indian Army (Photo: PTI)
 Indian Army (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: Amid the brouhaha over social media posts by jawans highlighting poor equipment and low quality of food, a vital requirement has remained unfulfilled over the years — soldiers’ trusted companion, guns.

An effort to acquire a family of small arms numbering about 65,000 Self-Loading Rifles (SLRs), 44,164 carbines, 44,000 LMGs and a large number of pistols remains mired in bureaucratic red tape.

While the forces gave a strong thumbs down to the DRDO-made Insas 5.56mm gun, which did not prove to be a success in its first full-scale combat in Kargil, the Army Commanders’ Conference in September 2015 suggested an urgent caliber change of the basic mainstay weapon from 5.56mm to 7.62mm. “It was more of a statement against being straddled with Insas, which was virtually forced on the Army,” a serving Army official said, seeking anonymity.

There are several complaints against the 5.56mm Insas that was introduced as the basic soldier’s hand weapon in 1990. Its magazines crack up easily, especially in extreme cold weather conditions besides being easily jammed, it spurts out oil during firing, going into automatic mode when it was set for three-round to name a few. These misgivings have resulted in the hunt for a better mainstay infantry weapon.

“While the rifle caliber change is okayed, the acquisition proposal in still in the Request For Proposal stage. Attempts to fasttrack it are being bogged down by official procedure,” said another Army source.

“The RFP for carbines was withdrawn because of a controversy over the gun sights. Now a fast-track procedure with transfer of technology is being explored without the gun sights,” the source said, adding that the gun sights would be made by the DRDO under the Make in India programme. Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) and Colt (US) are the two competitors for carbines.

The procurement procedure for the carbines would be completed in two years but it will still take some more time for the actual weapon to be physically possessed by soldiers.

The procurement process for LMGs is mired in a piquant situation where only an Israeli make (IWI-made) has qualified leading to a single vendor situation. “But this is a resultant single vendor situation which is allowed under Defence Procurement Procedure rules,” the source added.

Procuring the guns have become all the more urgent over unconfirmed reports say that Pakistan Army is looking to order a huge quantity of AK 103 assault rifles from Russia. The AK 103 is currently the most advanced gun in the Kalashnikov series. 

Tags: social media, indian soldiers, pakistan army
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi