India has signed a contract with a US subsidiary of a German firm for 72,400 assault rifles at a cost of around Rs 70 billion (nearly EURO 9M), according to Defence Ministry officials in mid-February.
The rifles are being bought under the fast-track procurement procedure. India signed the contract for 72,400 7.62mm Assault Rifles using the US fast track procurement (FTP) program.
So far the Indian Army uses the INSAS (an abbreviation of INdian Small Arms System) is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle and a light machine gun (LMG). It is manufactured by the Ordnance Factories Board at Ordnance Factory Tiruchirappalli, Small Arms Factory Kanpur and Ishapore Arsenal.
“This is the first large firearms procurement of the Indian Government in decades, and the explicit mission for this tender was to modernize the infantry troopers of the Indian Army with the best rifle available,” began Ron Cohen, President and CEO, SIG SAUER, Inc. “We competed in an open tender with small arms manufacturers from around the world. The SIG716 rifle underwent comprehensive and exhaustive testing and evaluation process where it outperformed the competition, and was ultimately chosen, and met all the criteria, as the best rifle to modernize the Indian Army.”
In early 2017, it was announced that INSAS rifles were to be retired and replaced by rifles capable of firing 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges.
Earlier in February, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had approved the procurement of the Sig Sauer rifles, which will be used by troops deployed along the nearly 3,600-km border with China.
In October, 2017, the Indian Army began the process to acquire around 700,000 rifles, 44,000 light machine guns (LMGs) and nearly 44,600 carbines.
A model built by the indigenous industry failed miserably during firing tests, after which it was decided to shop abroad for new weapons that could fire the 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges.
The SIG716 is an enhanced AR platform featuring a 16-inch barrel, M-LOM handguard, and a 6-position telescoping stock.
SIG Sauer will build the SIG716 rifles for the Indian Army in New Hampshire. Work is expected to completed within 12 months.