Hot on the heels of requesting an RFI for 36,000 thermal optics for GPMGs, Indian Army Infantry Procurement officials are putting out another RFI solicitation, this time for 5,000 rifles in .338 Lapua, no mention of scopes or thermal optics. In fact, the solicitation is worded very vaguely with “as light as possible for easy transport and use in varied terrain” and, “convenient to carry and operate by an average-built Indian soldier”. Defined metrics should improve to actual specifications in the competition process. I suspect these rifles are for border security against Pakistan, similar to the thermal optic RFI. Operations in Kashmir don’t seem to afford the ranges that a .338 Lapua capability would be useful at.
Although Indian Infantry currently use a number of bolt action rifles, semi-automatic rifles, and INAS DMRs for a long range role, it appears that the Cold War SVD Dragunov is especially effective due to its status as a squad level DMR. Within counter-insurgency warfare, DMRs are especially effective when the battlefield is extremely fluid and changing. Traditional sniper teams and tactics are effective as well, but are sometimes hard to get into position over very short periods of time. Something that a soldier with a DMR on a foot patrol can easily accomplish in a situation like Kashmir.
The service plans to acquire 5,000 bolt-action sniper rifles chambered for the .338 Lapua Magnum, with a requirement for the rifle to be capable of operation in environments to include high altitude, desert, and jungle.
With regards to weight and size, the specifications outlined are not set, with the RFI noting that its weight with bipod and empty magazine should be “as light as possible for easy transport and use in varied terrain”, while the overall length is required to be “convenient to carry and operate by an average-built Indian soldier.