Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Galaxy, Nov 30, 2011.
That's the Excalibur not the one shown in shining armour !
The army’s highest levels have arrived at a vital decision that could open the doors to buying new rifles for the entire army, while remaining within a strained procurement budget. The decision is to equip infantry soldiers with a world-class assault rifle, while non-infantry soldiers would get a cheaper, less effective, indigenous rifle.
Earlier, the army had planned to procure some 800,000 state-of-the-art assault rifles from the global market, each costing about Rs 200,000. That would have cost about Rs 16,000 crore – significantly more than what the army can afford.
Now, army chief General Bipin Rawat has decided to buy only 250,000 assault rifles from the international market, and issue them only to combat infantrymen – the frontline foot soldiers who are directly in contact with the enemy.
The remaining 550,000 army soldiers who are authorised rifles but serve mainly in non-infantry arms and services will get a new indigenous rifle. The army will choose between the INSAS-1C, designed by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO); and the Ghatak, designed by Ordnance Factory, Kirkee. These are less lethal than the infantry’s assault rifles, but also significantly cheaper, at about Rs 50,000 apiece.
“My thinking is: Since a state-of-the-art assault rifle will cost about Rs 200,000 each in the global market, let us issue these only to frontline infantry soldiers who confront the enemy armed only with their rifles,” Rawat told Business Standard. “Let us provide a cheaper indigenous option to other soldiers, for whom the rifle is not a primary weapon,” he added.
The chief explains the army has evaluated two different weapons philosophies. The assault rifle it has chosen for the infantry is a weapon optimised for conventional war, with a longer range and a larger bullet that kills or completely incapacitates the enemy soldiers that it strikes. It is also equipped with a night vision sight. The second type of weapon, which will arm non-infantry units, is optimised for counter-insurgency operations, being lighter and with a smaller bullet that a soldier can carry in larger numbers.
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A variation of this debate played out in the Indian Army in the 1970s, when it was looking to replace its old 7.62 millimetre self-loading rifles (SLRs). At that time, it was argued that the army should get a 5.56 mm rifle, since that would not just be lighter, but it would also injure, rather than kill, an enemy soldier. That would take out of battle not just the enemy who was shot, but additional enemy soldiers who would be tied up in evacuating the casualty.
This resulted in the army equipping itself with the 5.56 mm INSAS-1B1, manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). However, the army was unhappy with the INSAS-1B1, complaining that it was prone to stoppages, and that jihadi militants (and Pakistani soldiers in the Kargil conflict) who were shot by its lighter bullet did not always get incapacitated.
“We would shoot a militant with the INSAS and he would just keep coming at us. That is why we have always preferred to use the 7.62 mm AK-47 in Kashmir, rather than the INSAS,” says Lieutenant General VP Singh, a recently retired officer who has served multiple tenures in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
Notwithstanding this, only the infantry is going back to 7.62 mm calibre rifles. The bulk of the army will get 5.56 mm rifles, which means that the stock of older AK-47 rifles, which equip specialist Rashtriya Rifles counter-insurgency units, would have to remain the mainstay of operations in J&K and the Northeast.
The army currently fields 382 regular infantry battalions, 28 mechanised infantry battalions, 23 Guards battalions and nine Vikas and Scouts battalions, adding up to 442 battalions of infantry and its equivalent.
Even within an infantry battalion, not every one of its 800-odd soldiers will be issued a 7.62 mm assault rifle. These will go only to soldiers who can expect to be in direct contact with the enemy: its four rifle companies and the commando platoon (called Ghataks), totalling up to about 565 persons per battalion. The remaining personnel would be issued other weapons such as 5.56 mm carbines and rifles. At 565 rifles for each of these infantry units, the total adds up to 250,000 rifles.
At Rs 200,000 for each foreign assault rifle, equipping these 250,000 infantrymen will cost Rs 5,000 crore. For the remaining 550,000 non-infantry soldiers, their indigenous rifles – INSAS-1C or the Ghatak rifle, whichever is chosen – would be priced more cheaply at Rs 50,000 each, totalling up to Rs 2,750 crore. This foreign and indigenous mix of 800,000 rifles adds up to Rs 7,750 crore – saving Rs 8,250 crore, or more than half the Rs 16,000 crore cost of buying foreign assault rifles for the entire army.
The Ghatak and INSAS 1C both remain works in progress, with the army chief confirming to Business Standard there were minor problems during trial firing in summer, including stoppages that exceeded permissible limits. “However, there are significant improvements in those indigenous rifles too, and we expect the OFB and DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) to improve them quickly to meet our expectations,” Rawat said.
“We will not delay any further on the procurement process. I have passed orders for the RFP (Request for Proposals, as the tender is called) to be issued by the end of this year,” Rawat added.
The Rs 2 lakh cost of a state-of-the-art 7.62 mm assault rifle includes the cost of “reflex sights” and “night sights” that make it easier to aim and shoot with a high degree of accuracy, including at night. Without these add-ons, an assault rifle is fired with the help of its in-built sights – the soldier aligns a “rear sight” and “fore sight” on the rifles barrel with the target before squeezing the trigger. This requires a degree of skill and is tiring to the eye. With a reflex sight, which is fitted onto a small rail on the rifle (called a Picatinny Rail), the soldier only has to look towards the target through a small telescope, and align a red dot in the sight with the target before firing.
A modern reflex/night sight today costs as much as the rifle on which it is fitted – up to Rs 100,000.
For years, the Indian Army approached the acquisition of personal weapons, such as rifles and carbines, as part of the expansively named “Future Infantry Soldier as a System” (F-INSAS) programme. This aspired to integrate a soldier, along with his personal weapons and communications equipment, into a digitally networked battlefield management system. With this proving too ambitious, the army has now split the F-INSAS initiative into two distinct parts – the acquisition of personal weapons and, separately, a digitisation project termed the “Battlefield Management System” that is being pursued as a “Make” project in India.
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Infantry weapons and equipment have seldom received the attention that is lavished on more glamorous and expensive weaponry like aircraft, warships, submarines or tanks. However, with the infantry constantly engaged in live operations on the Line of Control with Pakistan, the Line of Actual Control with China and in counter-insurgency operations in J&K and the Northeast, there is a growing recognition of the need to upgrade the infantry soldier, particularly his personal weapon, says Lt Gen Singh.
The need for infantry modernisation is especially urgent in India’s operational milieu, where rugged mountain and jungle terrain limits the applicability and effectiveness of support weapons and air power, making the infantryman the final arbiter of battle.
The role of India’s infantry has remained largely unchanged since independence: to close in with and destroy the enemy. In defensive operations, the infantry physically holds ground against all forms of enemy attack. The infantry is trained and tasked to fight to the end, firing rifles and machine guns and, when ammunition runs out, fighting hand to hand with bayonets – a long knife attached to the rifle.
In an attack, while tanks often lead and the artillery provides fire support, eventually it is the infantryman – no women are allowed yet into this most physical of combat arms – who must physically occupy the enemy’s positions, charging at them in the face of their firing. All he can rely on with certainty is his personal weapon – the rifle or the LMG.
The basic simplicity of the infantry’s role and the tenacity needed to discharge it eminently suits the Indian soldier. In active service around the world, including through two World Wars, the Indian infantryman has earned a formidable reputation for tenacity and courage.
“The defence ministry can spend Rs 58,000 crore on just 36 Rafale fighters. But it finds it difficult to spend Rs 16,000 crore on giving modern assault rifles to 800,000 soldiers. Sitting on our border posts at 15,000 feet, we marvel at these priorities,” says the commanding officer of an infantry battalion, talking over the phone.
- Is this line of thinking justified?
- What if war breaks out in the future?
- How would you fight if 3/4th of your army is equipped with "less effective" assault rifles ?
- Instead of standardisation, IA going for compartmentalization ......
Army is approaching the Air-force philosophy of buying hodgepodge of different weapon systems leading to nightmarish supply chain issues, expensive maintenance and poor availability rates. All this seems to be done to do more corruption since each vendor will give the involved officers some incentive. How can half the troops from one division armed with different primary weapon with different caliber?! Never heard this in modern forces.
On technical note, I have felt the recoil of 7.62x51mm round and it's significant (look up SCAR-H videos). Small size of Indian soldiers will only make controlling the recoil of this round worse. In all practicality, 7.62x39 round is maximum that can be controlled in bursts of rapid fire. So, going back to 7.62 NATO round is obfuscating.
Recently, Pakis have decided to purchase (who knows if they have money for it) Bren -2 from Czech Republic chambered in 7.62x 39 AK round. Each will cost $2000.
It looks like Indian army is trying to import before local vendors- both private and public- can come up with good solution to replace INSAS. Just like IAF is trying to import F-16/ Gripen before LCA can start serial production.
Defense is a dirty business and all these deals only prove that notion.
Let's get ready for a mess, ladies.
The problem is I believe is multi fold.
Our defenseman budget is dismally low for a modern well equipped armed forces.
Then we have a crappy military industrial base.
Then we have corruption in the army.
Then we have slow procurement.
Army is headed for the same mess the air force is in.
Whats wrong with this?
Arty,Engg,ASC etc soldiers dont fight enemy face to face and hence dont require the best equipments.
Infantrymen have to be equipped well.
I think most people dont understand that arty guys fire arty guns..ASC supplies ammo and food..engineers build bridges and road and infantrymen are the foot soldiers.
There are more arty men,tank men,engineers, communication specialist than infantrymen.
Man the teeth to tail ratio is so skewed in the army.
Hence,the guy manning a Bofors doesnt need night vision sights with a 200,000rs rifle as much as a Infantryman charging a bunker.
I always believed that equip the SF first and then the RR and Infantry battalions.If you still have money left then go for other branches.
This foreign rifles will fail in trials again indian army will be forced to induct indingenous rifles.
Failed because money woun't reach into pocket
First of all, let me begin with stating the obvious fact that Ajai Shukla is a bloody moron.
Secondly, the 7.62 NATO rifles were always supposed to equip rifle companies and not other arms and services. RR will keep their 7.62×39 as there never was any plan to change that and support arms will replace their 9mm carbines with 5.56 mm carbines.
None of this is a "brand new plan".
The takeaway however is that Insas 7.62x51 will not see service and chances are that neither will JVPC and since the rumours of AAR's death are floating, I suppose RR too won't have a desi 7.62×39 mm.
Edit: The eminent defence analyst also forgot that not all personnel in rifle companies carry rifles. Only 6 men out of a 10 man section carry rifles. Two of them carry INSAS LMGs and the other two carry a Carl Gustav and it's ammunition.
Eventually it is the infantryman – no women are allowed yet into this most physical of combat arms – who must physically occupy the enemy’s positions, charging at them in the face of their firing.
Notice the subtle liberal bullshit being pushed by Ajai Shukla on order of his foreign Dalals. Since the Kolkata Class debate on no. of Barak 8 (32 or 64) VLS present his information has been absolutely inaccurate.
Two rifles we will get ...one foreign ...other one indigenous
All foreign rifles will fail trials. Indian Army will induct 250,000 ofb 7.62 x 51 nato and also 550,000 ofb exaclibur mk 1 c. This is just begining of induction of indigenous assault rifles and more to follow.
IF FN SCAR comes for trials, it will pass, in competitions so far the SCAR didn't come because of previous multi cal tender. But 7.62*51 is a category SCAR-H can easily live upto, expensive but perhaps the best off the shelf rifle available now.
Why not add private players in indigenous competition
To design and develop there own rifle against OFB
Much like in artillery
Because it is too late. Rifle technology is ancient by now. There is nothing more to develop. Just some fine tuning.
Simply bringing in private players with the notion that they will do wonders os stupid. The problem in India is crony chiefs, be it political or business. Indians have slave mindset and don't attack those who are unreasonable and hence these unreasonable ones don't face negative consequences. If the business fails, the banks will simply give loans to resurrect it.
It is the mindset that matters and not state or private. China and Russia have mostly state owned Military Industrial Complex and they work well
The mindset or culture thing is a whole different can of worms, so not touching it. But making a reliable and effective rifle is no child's play. Look at the SA80 program. On paper the L85A1 was a potent rifle with proven internals, look what happened.
We live market economy so spare me the crony crap
Socialist led to 1992. Downfall
Now about time if you heard the army they are not satisfied with of ofb rifles
And they are asking for further improvement
Now you have given me example of China and Russia both countries autocractic regime
Have ever visited there PSU
And have visited HAL and OFb
Seen there work environments
I based my experience with OFB and there work ethics
Separate names with a comma.