NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Defence on Wednesday approved procurement of personal weapons for the Army, Navy and IAF worth Rs 9,435 crore. Personal weapons are assault rifles, light machine guns and carbines that each soldier carries in operational areas.
The government also admitted that lack of adequate quality and quantity of personal weapons was worrisome.
“The vintage of personal weapons—assault rifles, close-quarter battle carbines and light machine guns—operated by troops of the three services, especially by soldiers positioned on borders and in areas affected by militancy has been a concern for over a decade,” said a ministry statement. “The government has been conscious of the requirement to modernize basic fighting weapons and has therefore accorded utmost priority to them.”
Approval by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) does not imply outright purchase as tenders will be notified and issued before selecting and contracting the manufacturer and setting up of production lines for 41,000 light machine guns and 3,50,000 rifles and carbines.
The ministry said 75 per cent of the products would be got from Indian firms. The requirement for troops in operational areas would be met through a fast-track process. The minimum period to begin procurement of the arms could be 18 to 36 months, and completion of orders would take longer than three years.
Only the Ordnance Factory Board, a government outfit, currently makes such weapons in India, and much of them are license-produced. Most personal weapons are AK-47s and the INSAS. More modern personal weapons in use by foreign militaries outperform these rifles.
“With the approval of these two proposals, the government has cleared procurement of the entire range of personal weapons for the three services,” said the note issued after the DAC meeting chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.