India is likely to place an order for 16,000 Light Machine Guns (LMGs) under the fast track procedure (FTP), two officials familiar with the matter have revealed.
The FTP can be invoked in cases where “undue/unforeseen delay” in buying weapons is seen to be adversely impacting the military’s capacity and preparedness, the first official was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying Wednesday.
In early February, the country also approved the purchase of 73,000 SIG716-G2 rifles from the US under the FTP to replace old INSAS rifles. The deal is valued at $97 million (INR 700 Crore).
“Indian Army teams will visit weapon manufactures in several countries including the US, Bulgaria and South Korea in the coming weeks to initiate the LMG purchase. Tenders for buying LMGs have been scrapped in recent years as only a lone vendor met the army’s requirements, delaying the projects,” said the second official.
“Previous attempts to buy LMGs have not come to fruition. It’s important to compress the acquisition process as is being done under the FTP route. It’s a critical shortfall in capability that is now being addressed on priority,” said former army vice chief Lieutenant General AS Lamba (retd).
According to rules, weapons sought to be bought under the FTP should already be in the military’s armoury, have undergone trial evaluation, or be in service in foreign militaries so that the time required for evaluation is minimised. The army has a requirement of more than 40,000 LMGs. The army is looking for 7.62mm x 51mm weapons with an effective range of at least 800 metres.
In October 2017, the Army proposed to acquire around 7 lakh rifles, 44,000 light machine guns (LMGs) and nearly 44,600 carbines. However, only rifles had been cleared while the deal for carbines and LMGs remained pending.
In January, Tiruchi Assault Rifles (TAR) developed by Ordnance Factory was handed over to the Indian Border Security Force. The rifle is touted to be an improved version of INSAS rifle and similar to the AK-47 series.
India procured 5,719 Italian Beretta .338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT and US' Barrett .50-calibre M95 sniper rifles in January to replace the aging Russian-made Dragunov sniper rifles.