MoD calls for fresh Army gun bids

The Ministry of Defence has initiated a fresh move for acquisition of close quarters battle (CQB) carbine guns for the Indian Army after a previous deal with an Israeli firm had to be called off last year because it involved a single vendor.

A senior MoD official, associated with the development, told TOI over phone that a request for information about the weapon was issued recently.

“A Request For Information (RFI), relating to CQB carbine guns of 5.56 calibre, with a minimum striking range of 200 metres, was issued a few days ago. It sought offers from global as well as Indian vendors,” the official said.

The Indian Army is currently using submachine guns of 9mm calibre that, experts point out, have not been effective in striking targets beyond a range of just 50 metres.

“The defence ministry had to cancel an earlier deal as it involved only one firm from Israel. As per norms, multiple players are required to submit competitive bids for fair selection,” the MoD official said.

According to the MoD source, the Army requires nearly 4 lakh CQB-effective carbines out of which the immediate requirement is for nearly 83,000 CQB guns.

A senior infantry officer, with extensive operational experience in the Jammu and Kashmir region, said the current weapon lacks accuracy beyond a range of 50 metres. “The current carbine also has several other problems, including jams while firing. The need is for a competent and reliable carbine gun, which is also easy and comfortable to use,” the officer said.

He continued: “The carbine is extensively used by the Indian Army for house clearing. Instances of firefights in close quarters are high in these situations. For example, in the Kashmir valley, terrorists are often holed up inside buildings. In such situations, one cannot afford to have an unreliable weapon.”

Another infantry officer said submachine guns made by Italian firearms manufacturer Beretta, and procured for the Border Security Force, had been proving effective. “This gun has delivered the desired results for the BSF. Similarly, the government should procure a new carbine gun for the Army at the earliest,” the officer said.

The Indian Army operates on some of the most difficult terrain in the world and personnel have reported firearm malfunctions, including jams, due to dust and weather. Weapon reliability then, is one of the foremost requirements of the troops.

The Army also wants the new gun to be upgradable. This requirement would mean the weapon platform should be able to include several types of modern sights and accessories. Most of today’s modern armies use weapons that can be fitted with night-vision and targeting accessories, including enhanced sights.




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