India Changes Horses Again: Bye-Bye Excalibur, Hello 7.62 NATO

    In the latest installment of the Indian next generation rifle procurement saga, the nation-subcontinent has decided to forgo their “Excalibur” rifle development program, which consisted of essentially a product-improved INSAS rifle, in favor of a new 7.62x51mm infantry rifle. The new larger-caliber weapon is reportedly going to be chosen after the country conducts a Request for Information (RFI), soliciting material from manufacturers around the world regarding their latest 7.62x51mm caliber rifle products. IHS Jane’s reports:

    In order to plug a longstanding operational gap the Indian Army has re-launched its quest for an imported assault rifle after recently rejecting the locally designed option.

    Military sources told IHS Jane’s that the army is readying a global request for information (RFI) for 7.62×51 mm assault rifles, instead of inducting the Excalibur 5.56×45 mm rifle designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

    The Excalibur is an upgraded version of the DRDO’s Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56×45 mm rifle, which entered service with the Indian Army in the mid-1990s, but was rejected in 2010 after being found ‘operationally inadequate’.

    The Indian Armed Forces have been trying to replace the troubled INSAS rifle for several years now. The INSAS has reportedly not performed up to expectations, due to problems both in build quality and inherent to the design. The Indian Armed Forces initially sought a foreign solution, but that program was cancelled for reasons that I can only speculate were political. In the meantime, the country decided to replace the INSAS rifle in all major combat zones with the aging AK pattern of rifles, so great were the problems with the domestic rifle type. Now, India is back on the international market, shopping for options, but this time the country is requesting larger-caliber guns, possibly joining both Pakistan and Turkey as nations using the 7.62mm NATO caliber as standard issue in lieu of a small-caliber, high-velocity round.

    Interestingly, there is no more word on the indigenous Indian MCIWS rifle since the new requirements.

    Thanks to Daniel for the tip!

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]