Govt rushes to buy 73,000 assault rifles from USA
New Delhi: In major move towards infantry modernisation, the Defence Ministry has cleared a long-pending proposal of the Army to procure around 73,000 assault rifles from the US under fast-track mode, official sources said on Saturday. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved procurement of the Sig Sauer rifles which will be used by troops deployed along the nearly 3,600-km border with China. They said the rifles are being bought under the fast track procurement procedure.
"The contract is expected to be finalised in a week. The US firm will have to deliver the rifles within one year of the date of finalising the deal," said a senior official involved in negotiation of the deal. Army sources said the US-manufactured rifles will replace the INSAS rifles.
The world's second largest standing Army has been pressing for fast-tracking the procurement of various weapons systems considering the evolving security threats including along India's borders with Pakistan and China. In October, 2017, the Army began the process to acquire around 7 lakh rifles, 44,000 light machine guns (LMGs) and nearly 44,600 carbines.
Around 18 months ago, the Army had rejected an assault rifle built by the state-run Rifle Factory, Ishapore, saying that the guns had failed the firing tests. Following this, the Army started scouting for rifles from the global market.