NEW DELHI: Boosting the fire power of Indian infantry units, Ministry of Defence (MoD) has finally approved the long-pending requirement of a modern state-of-the-art Light Machine Gun (LMG).
Communicating the development Ministry of Defence on Thursday informed, "The Acquisition Wing of Ministry of Defence has signed the capital acquisition contract with Israel Weapons Industries (IWI) for procurement of 16,479 LMGs at a cost of Rs 880 crore with the approval of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh."
The ministry added that contracted Negev 7.62 x 51 mm LMG is a combat proven weapon and currently used by several countries around the globe. This LMG will greatly enhance the lethality and range of a soldier vis-a-vis the presently used weapon.
Former DG (Military Operations) Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (Retd) said that this is very important for an infantry soldier as they were using the older versions. "Light Machine is the mainstay of a section and assault group of a Unit and it was long overdue as the LMG in use was bought long back," told Lt Gen Bhatia. India is using the INSAS LMG with the calibre of 5.56 x 45 mm.
The MoD added, "The provisioning of this operationally urgent and very critically needed weapon will boost the confidence of the frontline troops and provide much needed combat power to the Armed Forces."
Over a period of time owing to the dynamic nature of warfare, enhanced transparency in battlefield, latest technological advancement and capabilities of adversaries, operational requirements for these Small Arms have undergone a change.
For this particular contract, Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of LMGs through Fast Track Procedure (FTP) under 'Buy-Global' category was accorded by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in February 2018.
Further, a team of Army officers was tasked to scout for the best. The bids for LMG were received from Bulgaria (Arsenal), South Korea (S&T Motiv) and Israel (IWI). Before arriving at the final decision, the teams went to these three countries in May 2019 for trials to pick the best as per its qualitative requirements.