The Indian Ministry of Defense has reissued an RFI for 44,000 5.56x45mm rifles due by July 15th, and to be completed by this August. We say “reissued” because this is actually based on a previous tender for a similar amount of rifles that has received negative public attention since December 2016 because of severe bureaucratic hurdles between the Ministry of Defense and the Government itself (similar to issues surrounding the INSAS debacle). Specifically, the Indian Army is looking for a Close Quarters Battle rifle, chambered in 5.56x45mm, weighing less than 3 Kg, have an effective range of 200 meters, and outfitted with MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rails. The overall objective of this is to replace the 9x19mm Sterling submachine gun that much of the Indian Army is still using today, especially in the Kashmir area of operations.
In a 13 June request for information (RFI) the MoD stated that the tender for the carbines, which must have an effective range of 200 m, weigh 3 kg and be fitted with MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail systems, would be issued in August.
The carbines must be fitted with a sighting system comprising both flip-up open and detachable reflex (holographic/red dot) sights, along with a visible and invisible laser spot designator.
And from the New Indian Express on the previous tender–
For the last two decades, the Army has been battling to replace its British-era carbines, the sub-machine gun or the sten gun, which were reti red long ago. But each time the selection process get stuck on allegations of corruption and favouritism.
“With repeated failure to procure it through the global tendering process, the ministry has to go for direct government-to-government sale for buying the weapon. It will speed up the acquisition process and will rule out allegations of corruption,” a top ministry official said.
An Army officer involved in counter-insurgency operations said the British-era carbines are not battle worthy. “The carbines were authorised to commanders of Ghatak platoon, the Army’s first line of offensive in anti-terrorist operations. But the weapons are no match for militants who use sophisticated automatic weapons. In conventional warfare, militants are multi-generations ahead of the Army,” he said.
The interesting point about this specific tender is that it is simply asking for 44,000 rifles and isn’t asking a company to turn over technical data sheets for specific rifles, something that has consistently kept many manufacturers from ever doing business in India to begin with. This phenomenon doesn’t just exist to defense investment in India, but also in the public sphere with Coca-Cola withdrawing from India in the 1970s due to the Indian government insisting that the company hand over the secret formula for the popular soft drink. The Indian MoD has been known to act quickly in some cases so this might be the final straw for this particular tender.