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04:21 PM, January 12, 2019
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Russian Dragunov sniper rifle (image: YouTube)

The Indian Army has procured 5,719 Beretta .338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT and Barrett .50-calibre M95 sniper rifles to replace Russian-made Dragunov sniper rifles used by troops stationed at the LOC with Pakistan.

The newly procured 8.6mm sniper rifles have a range of 1,500 to 1,800 metres and will be delivered this month.

“The Indian Army is getting sniper rifles from different vendors including Messers Beretta .338 Lapua Magmum Scorpio TGT of Italy and .50 Calibre Sniper Rifle M95 MS Barrett from the United States. They are coming under the Buy Global category. The ammunition for these will be initially procured from abroad; subsequently it will be manufactured in India,” Financial Express quoted a source as saying Friday.

The Dragunov semi-automatic rifle uses a 7.62×54-MMR cartridge and has a range of 800 metres. These lack Picatinny rails and are thus incompatible with several modern accessories like magnification and sight systems. It also lacks a bipod system.

The Army have also made an emergency purchase of a small number of long-range advanced sniper rifles under the Northern Army Command Chief’s emergency financial powers. “The rifles should arrive soon,” TOI quoted an officer as saying Friday.

In December 2018, Ministry of Defence (MoD) had invited responses from global manufacturers to its request for proposals (RFP) for 5,719 8.6 mm sniper rifles and 10.2 million rounds of ammunition for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force in a deal worth $150 million. There will be licensed manufacture of five million rounds of .338 Lapua Magnum ammunition under a Transfer of Technology to India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board and private-sector manufacturers.

Currently, Indian Para-Special Forces units are equipped with Israeli 5.56×45mm NATO caliber Galil advanced sniper rifles. It is also acquiring long-range Finnish Sako sniper rifle having a range of nearly 2,400 metres, the report added.

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