The Indian Army may have finally decided to let go off the 25-year-old home-made INSAS assault rifles as it scouts the global market for the latest guns, body armour and helmets as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s $250 billion push to modernize armed forces.
“The 1.3 million-strong military is abandoning its two decade-old Indian made INSAS rifles and seeking to outfit its infantry with more up-to-date equipment, scouting for a new model on the global market for 185,000 assault rifles,” Bloomberg News reported.
India needs 65,000 rifles within 28 months of signing the contract and has asked global manufacturers to reply by November 7, the report said quoting defence ministry officials. India plans to issue a tender for procuring rifles in April 2017.
The INSAS rifles or Indian Small Arms System, rifle, was built by the government-run Ordnance Factory and has been criticized for being unreliable, especially in close combat.
“To identify possible vendors, the ministry last month issued a request for information. It said it wants a larger, more deadly 7.62mm model that will shoot to kill,” Bloomberg said.
“It’s encouraging that they’re going ahead with this, but it’s discouraging that it’s not made under ‘Make in India,’ the report quoted Anit Mukherjee, a former major in the Indian Army and assistant professor at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, as saying.
“The fact that it took 10 years for Indians to go ahead and say, ‘we’re importing’ means the bureaucracy is still holding back modernization of the armed forces. That’s problematic,” he said.