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Indian Army plans to order second batch of 72,000 assault rifles from US

The Indian government has acquired the assault rifles under the fast-track procurement (FTP) programme.

Jul 13, 2020 14:18 IST
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The Indian Army has decided to place another order for 72,000 Sig 716 assault rifles from the United States. This will be the second batch of rifles being ordered from the US, as the first lot comprising 72000 rifles has already been delivered to the Army.

The first batch of American assault rifles will be used by the troops in Northern Command and other operational areas.

According to defence sources, the Army has decided to place an order for 72000 more of such rifles under the emergency financial powers granted by the centre to the armed forces amid India’s ongoing border dispute with China. 

Key Highlights 

The Indian government has acquired the assault rifles under the fast-track procurement (FTP) programme.

The new rifles will replace the existing Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56x45mm rifles used by the armed forces, which were manufactured locally by the Ordnance Factories Board.

The 1.5 lakh imported assault rifles are expected to arm the troops involved in counter-terrorism operations and frontline duties along the Line of Control (LoC).

The remaining forces will be provided with the AK-203 rifles, which are produced jointly by India and Russia at the Amethi ordnance factory. The production work for the same, however, is yet to start due to several procedural issues faced by the two sides.

Significance

The Indian Army had ordered the first lot of Sig Sauer assault rifles to boost its counter-terrorism operations. The Army has been trying to replace its standard INSAS assault rifles since many years but most previous attempts had failed due to multiple reasons.

Background

The Union Government had granted the three armed services with emergency funds amounting to Rs 500 crore per procurement to buy the latest ammunition and weapons amid tense border standoff with China. The Union Ministry of Defence recently placed an order of 16,000 light machine guns from Israel.

The Indian Air Force is also planning to acquire more lethal and capable version of Spice-2000 Bombs to further strengthen its military capability to hit ground targets. The IAF had used Spice-2000 Bombs to destroy the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

India and China have been involved in a tense standoff position in Eastern Ladakh after the Chinese Army deployed more than 20,000 troops in the region without any provocation in May. The stand-off turned violent on June 15 amid de-escalation talks and twenty Indian soldiers lost their lives. Recently, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ladakh, both the nations agreed to disengage their troops in Eastern Ladakh. 

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