In a step that will help fulfill a major demand of the armed forces, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday, 13 February, approved Rs 15,935 crore worth of Capital Acquisition Proposals of the Services.
Much of the amount will go in the purchase of assault rifles for the three services.
According to the Ministry of Defence, around 7.4 lakh ‘Made in India’ assault rifles costing Rs 12,280 crore will be procured for the Services.
Another Rs 1819 crore has been earmarked for the purchase of Light Machine Guns through the Fast Track Procedure.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by the Defence Minister, approved the purchase of 5,719 sniper rifles for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force from a foreign seller. This purchase will cost Rs 982 crore.
“This procurement will meet the operational requirement of the troops deployed on the borders,” the Ministry said in a statement.
Mareech Advanced Torpedo Decoy Systems (ATDS) developed by DRDO will be procured for the Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 850 crore. The Mareech is capable of detecting, locating and countering torpedoes fired at ships.
On the other hand, the Army has been highlighting the need for modern and more effective assault rifles for the soldiers.
In November 2017, Army chief General Bipin Rawat had said that the frontline infantry units of his force needs around 250,000 7.62×51 mm rifles from foreign manufacturers. The remaining of the around 8 lakh assault rifles required by the Army can indigenously produced.
The principal reason behind the need for a 7.62×51 mm assault rifle is that the bullet of that size can kill the enemy unlike the bullet of the 5.56 mm size which can only injure the enemy.
The INSAS assault rifle – a standard issue for the personnel of the armed forces – uses the 5.56 mm ammo. When in direct operations against terrorist, the security forces are often forced to use AK-47 assault rifle, which uses the 7.62mm ammo, in the absence of a more reliable and modern assault rifle.
The DAC has in last one month fast tracked procurement of the three main personal weapons: Rifles, Carbines and LMGs.