Small arms and Light Weapons

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Senior Member
Oct 20, 2015
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India's Assault Rifle Induction Woes Continue With Delays in Indigenous Ak-203 Production
Because of this delay, the Ministry of Defence has approved the Indian Army's request for the follow-on import of 73,000 ‘Patrol’ Sig assault rifles from the US for Rs 840 crore, to meet urgent operational requirements.

Chandigarh: The Indian military’s acute labour pains for nearly 13 years with regard to inducting assault rifles endure, with the latest obstacle being the delay in the indigenous production of Russian Kalashnikov Ak-203 assault rifles.

This postponement by the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) joint venture (JV) at Korwa, near Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, following US-led sanctions on Moscow for invading Ukraine, is believed to have compelled the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to recently approve the Indian Army’s (IA’s) request for the follow-on import of 73,000 ‘Patrol’ Sig assault rifles from the US for Rs 840 crore, to meet urgent operational requirements.

Earlier, in late 2020, the MoD had procured 72,400 SIG716 Sauer 7.62x51mm rifles for around Rs 700 crore, of which the IA had received 66,400 units, the Indian Air Force 4,000 and the Indian Navy’s Garud Special Forces the remaining 2,000 weapon systems.

But soon after the rifle buy, the MoD had proscribed all assault rifle imports and included the weapon system in its Positive Indigenisation List. Five such lists comprised 509 military platforms and related items and equipment that were to be sourced locally within a staggered schedule lasting till 2025. According to this time table, however, the purchase of foreign assault rifles was to have mandatorily ceased by December 2021, as part of the overall bid to further the MoD’s atmanirbhar or self-sufficiency initiative with regard to locally sourcing military kit and reducing import dependency.

Industry officials said that by approving the 73,000 Sig Sauer rifle import, the MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council was ‘contravening’ its own stipulations. They also said that it was ‘indirectly’ acknowledging that the IRRPL at Korwa, which was inaugurated in early 2019 and slated to begin supplying Ak-203 rifles to the IA by March 2024, had failed to meet its delivery commitments.

In January, the IA Chief of Staff General Manoj Pande had declared that army would receive its first batch of 5,000 locally manufactured Ak-203 7.62x39mm rifles but, for now, these stood jeopardised, reportedly necessitating the proposed Sig Sauer rifle import.

IA officials and those at the IRRPL in Korwa were unavailable for comment.

Furthermore, news reports also dismissed accounts of glitches in the previous SIG716 rifles consignment, which The Wire had reported on in May 2022.

Quoting industry officials, The Wire‘s report had said that these snags centred on some rifles ‘jamming’ whilst firing locally produced 7.62mm rounds, which were not as efficient as imported ammunition. Hence, when fired they reportedly tended, in many instances, to spawn ‘barrel bulges’ that rendered many rifle’s inoperable. These bulges ensued after a round failed to exit the rifle upon firing and the follow-on round built up tremendous pressure due to the constricted air inside the barrel, causing it, in turn, to either develop a bulge, a crack or even result in it exploding altogether.

Army sources had also told The Wire at the time that indigenous ammunition also rendered ‘somewhat questionable and inaccurate’ the rifles second round burst accuracy. In a semi-automatic firearm like the SIG716, ‘burst-mode’ firing enabled the shooter to fire a predetermined number of rounds-normally two or three- at a target with a single pull of the trigger.

Additionally, these SIG76 rifles had reportedly necessitated local ‘modifications’ like altering their grip to enable a firmer grasp by adding a ‘wooden handle’ under their 457.2mm long barrel, somewhat similar to the jugaad or innovation the IA had earlier executed on Ak-47’s. Recent media reports also claimed that some army units had locally fitted the SIG716’s with these ‘grips’ as well as with bipods to provide the rifles stability against canting, or side-to-side movement, thereby augmenting their operational flexibility.

But above all, The Wire had stated that the SIG716 rifles lacked optical day, night, holographic and even basic LED-powered reflex ‘red-dot’ sights as the MoD, under IA advisement had, out of pecuniary considerations, decided against acquiring these critical auxiliary add-ons, essential to precisely aligning targets in conflict zones at ranges varying between 100m-700m. The latter battery-operated sight, for instance, provided users a ‘point of aim’ in the form of an illuminated red dot, a phenomenon often seen in action movies; their absence renders the user wholly or at least partially ‘blind’ in skirmish areas.

Also, not having any of these sights to secure a virtual image of the intended mark required the shooter to close one eye to make his objective, thus depriving him of peripheral vision, that could well determine the stark choice between life and death on the battlefield. Conversely, the day and night sights, depending on their respective magnifications and sophistication were more advanced, but expensive to import, costing upwards of Rs 50,000 each, for which reason the MoD had obviated their procurement. It had then reasoned that indigenous substitutes were cheaper.. Thereafter, several local manufacturers had demonstrated assorted sights at the Army War College at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh for eventual fitment onto the SIG716’s, some of which were under evaluation and awaited shortlisting to render the rifles operationally more effective.

However, the Times of India reported on Wednesday that the IA was effectively employing domestically sourced 7.62mm rounds, and quoted an unidentified army officer declaring that as a consequence “no deviations in the performance of the weapon had been found”. Its report also quoted the same officer claiming that the SIG716 rifle had a 500m ‘kill range’ compared to the Ak-203’s 300m, thereby justifying the purchase.

The same officer also told the Times that the rifles were fitted with Picatinny rails to facilitate the mounting of various equipment and accessories, such as optical sights, under barrel grenade launchers, bipods and laser pointers and other force multipliers without modifications. But he declined to confirm if any or all these additional fixtures had either previously been procured or were in the future being acquired.

The Ak-203 saga began after the IA’s wholly impractical multi-calibre assault rifle tender was eventually terminated in 2015 after five fruitless years of trials and evaluations following a flawed qualitative requirement (QR) formulated by the Infantry Directorate for the weapon system. The proposed rifles were intended to replace the indigenously developed Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56x45mm assault rifles that had entered IA service in the mid-1990’s, but were seriously flawed and ultimately declared ‘operationally’ inadequate by the force in 2010.

After the disastrous multi-calibre procurement was rescinded the IA, yet again amazingly re-ignited deliberations over which calibre rifle – 5.56mm or 7.62mm – it operationally required, before opting for the former after years of tortuous wranglings. Its attempts to source an assault rifle from the erstwhile state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) also failed. But four years later, in March 2019, just ahead of the general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the facility at Korwa to licence build 750,000 Ak-203 rifles with collapsible stocks.

The JV to implement the project followed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between New Delhi and Moscow that was signed soon after in which the OFB had a 50.5% stake in IRPL, the Kalashnikov Group 42% and Russia’s state-owned arms export agency Rosonboronexport, the remaining 7.5%. The OFBs Korwa project has since been assimilated into the newly formed Advanced Weapon and Equipment India Limited corporation after OFB was split into seven assorted government-owned entities.

The intent was for IRRPL to import some 80,0000 AK-203’s for around $1,100 (Rs 81,000) apiece to meet the army’s urgent operational needs, followed by the licensed production of the remaining 650,000-odd units. But the deal ran into multitudinous problems of costing, payment of royalties and technology transfer issues like the indigenous content to be incorporated into the rifles. Sundry contractual and pricing problems too persisted, with the former OFB having costed each licence-built Ak-203 rifle initially at around Rs 86,000. Amortised over time its cost was projected to drop to around Rs 80,000 per unit, still more than each Sig Sauer rifle which at the time was considerably cheaper at Rs 72,782.

In a related development, industry officials claimed that the IA was currently considering ‘upgrading’ and ‘re-tweaking’ its INSAS assault rifle which it had discarded over a decade ago on grounds of inefficiency and for being a weapon system ‘overtaken by technological development’ – a euphemism for the rifle imply being a poorly designed product.

The shortcomings of the domestic rifle, developed over a decade by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and series built thereafter by the former OFB, centred round its sights, which malfunctioned especially in extreme temperatures’ and its firing mechanism that often jammed during firefights. But successive army chiefs, presented a fait accompli, had un-demurringly persisted in employing the INSAS rifle that was the infantry’s principal weapon during the Kargil war and in counter-insurgency operations, much to the operational chagrin of numerous combat formations.

IA plans to retrofit and modify the INSAS rifle are believed to include refashioning its butt stock to ensure sustained fire under adverse conditions, minimising its high recoil, and installing ‘lower’ Picatinny rails to support accessories and add-ons, amongst other modifications. A private vendor is believed to have successfully upgraded the INSAS for employment for some paramilitary and state police units, and has reportedly offered the same to the IA which was favourably considering his proposal to make good its needs for its basic infantry weapon.

But as a senior veteran infantry officer quipped, such a move would merely entail throwing good money after bad. “The responsibility for these continuing setbacks lies equally with the services for their flawed planning and the MoD for its rigid and byzantine procedures that few can comprehend and even fewer implement,” said a former defence ministry official.

Instead of following a practical and realistic approach to military capability development, the services and the MoD are forever engaged in a tussle that obviates its attainment he added, declining to be identified as he was fearful of repercussions, despite having retired.


Senior Member
Jun 21, 2018
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Why are they wearing UN gear?
Armies of India, Vietnam begin 11-day military exercise in Hanoi

“The aim of the exercise is to foster collaborative partnership, promote interoperability and share best practices between the two sides under Chapter VII of UN Charter on Peacekeeping Operations,” the Indian Army said in a statement.

“Both sides will conduct technical military operations in accordance with scenarios akin to worldwide deployment of United Nations’ contingents,” the Army said.

Arjun Mk1A

Senior Member
Mar 6, 2022
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don't make a fool out of yourself, in comments someone has already debunked this
View attachment 233404
View attachment 233405
It's this one, STV-215 carbine

Even for a moment I thought Trica. Then I remember trichy oft guy in an exhibition told that crpf is our customer for Tar.

How good Tar as a rifle, because it went under radar for long time. Any possibility our Army will buy this as a short term till ak203 mess sorted out.

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