The Indian Army is likely to float a Request for Information (RFI) soon to buy some 10,000 light machine guns (LMG) as part of a program to procure LMGs, carbines and assault rifles costing nearly INR40,000 crore (US$6.1 Billion), news agency PTI reported today quoting unnamed sources.
The process to acquire around 7,00,000 rifles, 44,000 LMGs and nearly 44,600 carbines has been finalized, a PTI report published in several Indian newspapers said.
Apart from kick-starting the procurement process, the government wants the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to expedite its work on various small arms, particularly on an LMG.
The Army has also finalized the specifications for a new 7.62 mm assault rifle and the Indian MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) is likely to approve its procurement soon. "The General Service Quality Requirements (GSQR) for the new assault rifle has been finalized. The procurement plan will soon be placed before the DAC for approval," an unnamed senior official was quoted in the report.
The Army needs around 7,00,000 7.62x51 mm assault rifles to replace its locally-made INSAS rifles which were designed nearly two decades ago.
In June, the Army had kick-started the initial process to procure around 44,600 carbines, nearly eight months after a tender for it was retracted, due to single-vendor situation. Around half a dozen firms including a few global arms manufacturers have responded to the RFI.
Various specifications for the LMGs and battle carbines were tweaked to ensure that the problem of single vendor does not recur; the sources were quoted by PTI as saying.