The Indian Army is set to strengthen its arsenal with a significant weapons upgrade as the Defence Ministry greenlights the procurement of an additional 73,000 SiG Sauer assault rifles from the United States. This move follows the acquisition of approximately 72,000 SiG Sauer rifles earlier, aimed at bolstering the firepower of troops deployed on the frontlines.
Previous Purchase and Delays
The decision to acquire more rifles stems from persistent delays in the manufacturing of Russian AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles within India. The Defence Acquisitions Council, led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, has sanctioned the procurement of these rifles, valued at Rs 840 crore.
Amidst Standoff with China
This strategic decision comes amid the prolonged military standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh, which is now entering its fourth consecutive winter. Simultaneously, the delivery of over six lakh AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles from the Korwa ordnance factory in UP’s Amethi district faces delays.
AK-203 Project Delays
Challenges in the Indo-Russia Rifles Joint Venture
The AK-203 project, initiated in 2018 under the Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited joint venture, encountered substantial delays. Issues revolving around costs, royalty, technology transfer, and indigenization contributed to the project’s protracted timeline.
SiG-716 Rifles’ Superiority
To address the immediate need for rifles, the Indian Army imported the first batch of 72,400 SiG-716 assault rifles from the US. Despite initial concerns, these rifles, using 7.62×51 mm caliber bullets, demonstrated superior effectiveness, lethality, and recoil compared to indigenous INSAS and AK-47 rifles.
Characteristics of SiG-716 Rifles
Adaptability and Operational Advantages
SiG-716 rifles are adaptable, featuring Picatinny rails for mounting various accessories without modifications. With an effective range of 500 meters, these rifles meet immediate operational needs, complementing the broader requirements of the armed forces.
Role of SiG-716 Rifles
Immediate and Broader Requirements
While SiG-716 rifles fulfill immediate operational needs, the AK-203 rifles, with a 300-meter range, are integral to the Army’s ‘future infantry soldier as a system’ (F-INSAS). This includes day-night holographic and reflex sights, specially designed helmets, bullet-proof jackets, and communication and surveillance systems.
In conclusion, the Indian Army’s decision to acquire 73,000 SiG Sauer assault rifles signifies a major upgrade in its weapons capability. This move is crucial, given the geopolitical tensions and the delays in the indigenous AK-203 project. The SiG-716 rifles provide immediate effectiveness, while the AK-203 rifles contribute to the broader requirements of the armed forces.
- Are SiG-716 rifles better than indigenous rifles?
- Yes, SiG-716 rifles offer superior effectiveness, lethality, and recoil compared to INSAS and AK-47 rifles.
- Why the need for additional rifles amid the standoff with China?
- The delays in the delivery of AK-203 rifles prompted the procurement of additional SiG Sauer rifles to meet immediate operational needs.
- What is the significance of the AK-203 project in F-INSAS?
- The AK-203 rifles play a crucial role in the ‘future infantry soldier as a system,’ offering advanced features like day-night sights and communication systems.
- How do SiG-716 rifles contribute to the broader requirements of the armed forces?
- SiG-716 rifles fulfill immediate operational needs, complementing the broader requirements alongside AK-203 rifles.
- What are the key features of AK-203 assault rifles?
- AK-203 rifles feature day-night holographic and reflex sights, ensuring 360-degree visibility and accuracy in operational scenarios.