Modernisation Drive: Indian Army To Buy 185,000
Assault Rifles And Protective GearIndian Army set to get new rifles

The Indian Army, which is set to abandon its two-decade-old indigenously made INSAS rifles, will soon begin the process of acquiring 185,000 assault rifles, along with armour and helmets, to outfit its infantry with more up-to-date equipment. The move is a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s $250 billion push to modernise India’s armed forces.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had issued a request for information last month, according to which, the army needs 7.62 mm rifles, 65,000 in number, within 28 months of signing the contract. Global manufacturers have been requested to reply by 7 November as India plans to issue a tender for procuring rifles in April 2017.

As we reported earlier, the acquisition process has suffered from constant road blocks. Parrikar had on Wednesday (26 October) scrapped a tender for procurement of 45,000 rifles for the Indian Army at the cost of Rs 1,000 crore amid serious allegations of corruption in the acquisition process. These rifles were to be provided to the counter-terrorism units of the army for the elimination of infiltrators at a close range.

The matter was under investigation over the possibility of favours being given to Israeli firm, Israeli Weapons Industry (IWI), over its other rivals in the deal.

The initial tender for 44,600 close quarter carbines (rifles) was issued by the Indian Army in 2010. Rifles from two different vendors, IWI and Italian Beretta, were selected for field trials. While 28 companies had shown interest in the tender in the first stage, Israeli firm was the only vendor left in the final phase. The Defence Ministry, when necessary, allows single vendor cases to be pursued, but it usually prefers only multi-vendor tenders at the final stage to benefit from competition in cost negotiations.

The irregularities in the procurement process were brought to notice by Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh during the Defence Acquisition Council meeting in June. According to sources, the Defence Ministry has now asked the army to restart the tender process under a fast-track, multi-vendor model.

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