The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has cleared a proposal for the Indian Army to buy a second batch of 70,000 Sig716 rifles, reported ANI.
These rifles will be primarily for army troops engaged in counterterrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
A high-level MoD meeting, attended by senior military and government officials, approved the order.
This comes a year (May 2022) after reports of MoD cancelling an order of another 70,000 Sig716 rifles due to some operational issues. According to a senior Defence Ministry official, the Sig716 rifles have a compatibility issue in India, due to different operational conditions, even when the rifle works fine in American conditions.
"The Sig716 rifles may work fine in America, but there can be compatibility issues in India due to different operational conditions," said the officer.
The procurement of over 70,000 assault rifles, valued at more than Rs 800 crore, comes at a crucial time.
The Indian forces are currently engaged in a military standoff with China and are actively involved in extensive counterterrorism operations along the Line of Control (LoC), combating Pakistan-backed terrorist activities.
India has previously procured over 70,000 of these American-manufactured assault rifles. They are currently in use in Ladakh along the China border and in the Kashmir valley. The decision to acquire these rifles was initially taken by the military to obtain a weapon with a longer range capability.
Notably, in February 2019, India ordered 72,400 Sig716 rifles (of 7.62x51mm calibre) – 66,400 for the army, 4,000 for the air force, and 2,000 for the navy.
The choice of the Sig716 assault rifle, selected from various contenders, was based on its high calibre and extended range capabilities.
It is also more lethal than the INSAS Rifle or the AK-47 and its variants, which are currently in service.
In addition to the Sig716 rifles, the Indian forces are poised to receive the AK-203, produced by a joint venture between two companies in the ordnance factory near Amethi, Uttar Pradesh.
Furthermore, the Indian forces have recently added a significant number of Russian AK-103 rifles to their arsenal, further bolstering their capabilities against terrorist threats and in conventional operations.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
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