New Delhi, Mar 24: The Indian soldiers on the borders of China and Pakistan are likely to get new assault rifles, light machine guns and closequarter battle carbines, soon. Reports say that in connection to this, the requests for proposal (RFPs) or the initial tenders have been issued, the Defence Ministry sources have claimed.

On Friday, the RFP for 72,400 assault rifles, 93,895 CQB carbines and 16,479 light machine guns were issued to selected foreign armament companies. The arms and ammunition is estimated to cost Rs 5,366 crore, a report said.

Notably, the Army had first asked for new assault rifles and CQB carbines for its 382 infantry battalions way back in 2005. On the other hand, the case for the light machine guns was initiated in 2009. But the long-drawn procurement projects were repeatedly scrapped due to graft allegations or unrealistic technical parameters.

Meanwhile on March 21, it was reported that the Indian armed forces are currently facing a shortage of a total of 52,000 soldiers with the Indian Army on top. The Indian Army has 21,000 posts vacant. The details in this regard were provided by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre in the Lok Sabha.

Bhamre had said that the while Army is reeling under a shortage of 21,383 personnel, the number of vacant posts in the Navy is 16,348 and 15,010 in the Air Force. On being asked about the number of vacant officer posts in Army, he replied with 7,680. (Also Read: ‘Insufficient’ Defence Budget Dashes Hopes of Modernisation, Says Army Vice-chief)

On March 14, Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Sarath Chand deposed to the Parliamentary panel on Defence Budget 2018-19 and expressed grave concern at the ‘insufficient’ allocation of funds. A marginal increase in the defence budget barely accounts for inflation, he told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence.