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Sniper rifles for Indian Army delayed as 20 firms offer weapon, but none make ammunition


New Delhi: The Indian Army’s wait for much-needed sniper rifles just got longer, with the procurement process hitting a glitch: 20 firms replied to the Army’s request for information (RFI), floated last year, but none of them manufacture the ammunition.


The absence of ammunition-manufacturing capacity is seen as a major drawback because the Army was looking to secure technology transfer under the final deal for the seamless operation of the rifles in the long run, ThePrint has learnt.


The Army is now looking to scrap the RFI and start afresh its hunt for 5,700 high-precision sniper rifles, at an estimated cost of Rs 982 crore, highly-placed sources in the defence establishment told ThePrint.


“While these high-precision weapons will be bought with ‘Buy Global’ categorisation, their ammunition will be initially procured and subsequently manufactured in India,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement issued last year.


There were 12-13 foreign firms among the 20 that replied to the 2018 RFI, ThePrint has learnt, with the respondents including Sako of Finland, H-S Precision of the US, Steelcore Designs Limited of the UK, PGM Precision of France, and Punj Lloyd Raksha Systems, a joint venture between Indian defence conglomerate Punj Lloyd and Israel Weapons Industries.

ThePrint获悉,20家外国企业中有12-13家对2018年的采购案做出了回应,应标者包括芬兰的赛课公司,美国的H-S精准公司,英国的Steelcore设计有限公司、法国的PGM精准武器公司、以及Punj Lloyd Raksha系统公司(它是印度国防企业集团Punj Lloyd和以色列武器工业的合资公司)。

However, after uating the firms, the authorities found that none had the capability to manufacture the ammunition.


“Ammunition is a crucial requirement for sniper rifles, because even if the firms procured ammunition from elsewhere later, they would not be able to transfer the technology to India,” another Army source told ThePrint.


‘Much delay unlikely’
The Army is looking to procure sniper rifles amid an increased threat of sniper attacks along the Line of Control as well as to seek a tactical advantage over enemies sighted at a distance.


While procurement of defence equipment is usually a long-drawn process, with multiple steps and thorough uations, sources in the defence establishment said that the purchase of high-precision sniper rifles was part of a modernisation plan and unlikely to face much delay.


“The troops are being provided with sniper rifles at the borders. This one is for the entire forces and will take the minimum standard time,” one of the aforementioned Army sources said. “The first batch will be delivered after two years.”


With the larger procurement taking time, the Northern Army Commander made an urgent purchase this March of two new advanced sniper rifles — Barrett M95 .50 BMG and Beretta Scorpio TGT ‘Victrix’, with .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges — through his special financial powers.

由于采购消耗时间变长,北方陆军司令于今年三月份,动用了他的特别财政权,紧急采购了两种先进的新型狙击步枪——巴雷特M95 .50 BMG和贝雷塔天蝎TGT“胜利女神”(采用.338Lapua马格南子弹)。

However, the numbers procured were a blip compared to those required.


The RFI issued by the Army’s Infantry Directorate in 2018 took into account these factors, seeking 8.6X70 mm sniper rifles with a range of at least 1,200 metres, and 10.2 million rounds of ammunition.