India approves $100-million SIG SAUER rifles for army, as conflict rages with China

Photo: SIG SAUER 7.62mm assault rifles being used by a soldier.

New Delhi: India today approved the procurement of 72,000 American-origin assault rifles at a cost of $100 million for arming its infantry soldiers, amidst a raging military conflict in northern border with China.

This SIG SAUER‘s SIG716 7.62-mm assault rifles purchase is the second tranche of acquisition of this battle-proven weapon. The first tranche of the same number of rifles were bought in the recent years.

The decision to buy these assault rifles, already successfully deployed and used by the Indian Army‘s soldiers in Kashmir during homeland security and low intensity conflict, was taken by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh.

Photo: SIG SAUER’s SIG716 assault rifle.

The assault rifles procurement proposal was among the Rs 2,290 crore ($310 million) acquisition plans that were given the green signal in today’s meeting of the DAC, according to a Ministry of Defence statement.

“Further, to equip the front line troops of the army, the DAC also accorded approval for procurement of SIG SAUER assault rifles at a cost of approximately Rs 780 crore ($101 million),” the statement said (currency conversion, added by Defence.Capital, is according to today’s exchange rates).

Among the other procurement, given approval under the Capital head of the defence budget, were Static High Frequency Tans-Receiver Sets and Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW).

These two items are being procured under the ‘Buy Indian (IDDM)‘ category of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016. IDDM stands for Indigenously Designed, Developed, and Manufactured, a procurement category to encourage purchases from domestic vendors.

“The High Frequency radio sets will enable seamless communication for the field units of army and the air force, and are being procured at an approximate cost of Rs. 540 crore ($73 million).

“The Smart Anti Airfield Weapon being procured at an approximate cost of ₹ 970 crore ($131 million) will add to the fire power of Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.”

The SIG SAUER rifles are a replacement for the Indian Small Arms System (or INSAS) 5.56mmX45mm rifles that are the standard personal weapon issued to the Indian armed forces personnel from the four services and is made by the Ordnance Factory Board.

India is also currently pursuing a joint production for Russian-origin AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles at a plant in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. The final agreement for the production of the Russian-origin rifles is expected to be signed in October when the summit meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin happens, if scheduled according to original bilateral plan.

India and China have been militarily facing off in the over 1,000-km Line of Actual Control in Ladakh region since May this year and there are no signs of a thaw in the confrontation between their armies.

The conflict seems to be moving in the direction of a long haul that could extend into the 2020 winter and beyond, unless a miraculous resolution takes place before that.

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