New Delhi: In a major move towards infantry modernisation, India on Tuesday signed a deal with the United States for 72,400 assault rifles at a cost of around Rs 700 crore, news agency PTI quoted Defence Ministry officials as saying.
The Defence Ministry signed the contract with the US firm for acquiring the Sig Sauer Assault Rifles for the Indian Army under fast-track procedures.
Earlier this month, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had approved the procurement of the rifles which will be used by troops deployed along the nearly 3,600-km border with China.
PTI quoted sources saying that the rifles, being used by the US forces as well as several other European countries, are being bought under the fast track procurement procedure.
“The contract is expected to be finalised within a week. The US firm will have to deliver the rifles within one year from the date of finalising the deal,” a senior official involved in negotiation of the deal had said.
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, after the guns miserably failed the firing tests.
Following it, the Army started scouting for rifles from the global market.
The procurement of assault rifles has witnessed significant delays due to a variety of reasons including the Army’s failure to finalise the specifications for it. The Army needs around 7 lakh 7.62×51 mm assault guns to replace its INSAS rifles.