By Ayaskant Das
New Delhi–The US-made heavy-calibre Sig Sauer assault rifles are set to boost the combat lethality of Indian troops. The first batch of these rifles will be given to them this December.
As per the deal signed in February by the Ministry of Defence with US arms major Sig Sauer, 72,400 rifles will be purchased at Rs 700 crore.
These assault rifles will suit the army’s operational tactic of ‘shoot to kill’ instead of incapacitation’, according to defence experts.
These weapons may give an upper hand to troops in insurgency-hit areas. Troops are at present dependent on the INSAS rifles and have to wait for indigenous mass production of AK-203 rifles of Russian origin, the experts say.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said, here last week, by the end of year the first batch of the Sig Sauer rifles would arrive in a dismantled state and would be provided to troops after being assembled in the country.
The INSAS, designed by the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) and produced by the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), was inducted into the army in 1994. But armed forces have not found the weapon reliable in terms of combat lethality, weight and sighting system.
“There has been an urgent need for long-range rifles for troops deployed on borders or insurgency-hit areas. With the INSAS rifle, there have been issues like stoppages and unreliability. The INSAS rifles’ plastic magazine is not steady and is prone to cracking. Troops in insurgency-hit areas don’t prefer the INSAS. A soldier’s confidence and reliability in the weapon system is of paramount importance,” former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen (rtd) Deependra Singh Hooda told IANS.
On the other hand, the Ordnance Factory Project Korwa in Amethi district of UP, one of the 41 state-run arms production units, will manufacture the AK-203 rifles under a joint venture, Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited, between the OFB and Russian firms in February. Around 7.5 lakh AK-203 rifles will be produced under the contract.
“Apart from INSAS rifles, the army also has AK-47s at its disposal. The 7.62×39 mm AK-203 rifles produced in India will no doubt boost the ‘make in India’ initiative and give more teeth to troops. But as a matter of urgency, the Sig Sauer rifles will be a big boost for troops in frontline areas,” a senior army officer told IANS. (IANS)