<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Army is exploring the option of importing modern assault rifles for the infantry engaged in counter-terror operations and other combat positions as homegrown weapons lack the potency needed for such encounters.People with the knowledge of the matter have told DNA that the force feels that at least 2.5 lakh assault rifles out of the total requirement of 8 lakh should be procured from abroad. These can be used by the front-line troops who fight terrorists in Kashmir and insurgents in North-East.The need to equip the infantry with a modern assault rifle is a top priority, Army sources said.”Buying the entire 8 lakh rifles from a foreign firm will turn out to be very expensive. But we cannot compromise on the quality of the weapon being used by the infantry,” said an army source.Another option being explored is to get the initial procurement from abroad and subsequently set up a manufacturing line in India under the Strategic Partnership model.The Army had earlier expressed reservations on the assault rifle being developed by the state-run Ordnance Factory Board. This firearm was expected to meet infantry’s requirement and be an alternative for the INSAS (Indian Small Arms Systems) rifles inducted in 1988.Listing out the limitations in the 7.62 x 51 mm rifle after an internal evaluation, the army review had said in June that the weapon is a prototype with several faults that go beyond 20 times the maximum permissible limit.In September 2016, when the Ministry of Defence came out with a Request for Information to identify probable vendors, it was said that 65,000 out of the total requirement of 1.85 lakh rifles were needed urgently.Not just the Army, but other forces like the Central Reserve Police Force, which is a part of the counter-terror operations in Kashmir and fights Maoists, is also looking at global options. Soon after Home Minister Rajnath Singh urged for speeding up indigenous procurement for para military forces, the CRPF issued a global tender for 29,823 assault rifles.Sources said the need to arm the forces with a modern assault rifle is a must in view of the changing dynamics of counter-insurgency operations, especially in Kashmir.Joint operations by the Army, CRPF and Jammu & Kashmir police have been successful and resulted in killings of terrorists including several top commanders. Nearly terrorists have been gunned down this year in Kashmir going past last year’s tally of 150.MORE FIREPOWERThe Army sources said that at least 2.5 lakh expensive assault rifles out of the total requirement of 8 lakh should be procured from abroad.
These can be used by the front-line troops who fight terrorists in Kashmir and insurgents in North-East.