In an unprecedented turn of events, the Indian government has approved the building of a private sector small arms factory at Malanpur in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Previously, the Indian small arms industry has been entirely nationalized, with the Ministry of Defence-run Ordnance Factories Board overseeing the production of everything from armored vehicles to the somewhat notorious Nirbheek revolver designed for sale to Indian civilian women. Now, however, the Indian engineering group Punji Lloyd are partnering with Israeli Weapons Industries to open the very first private sector small arms factory in the nation. The factory is part of a new effort to meet the long-unfulfilled needs of the Indian military for modern, quality small arms in the wake of the government’s decision to scale back issuance of the troubled INSAS assault rifle in favor of older models like the AKM.
The full press release is below:
Punj Lloyd and IWI set-up India’s First Private Sector Small Arms Manufacturing Plant at Malanpur, Madhya Pradesh
Malanpur, Madhya Pradesh, 4 May, 2017 – Diversified conglomerate Punj Lloyd and its JV Partner, Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) today inaugurated the country’s first Private Sector Small Arms Manufacturing Plant at Malanpur in Madhya Pradesh.
Presided over by the Honourable Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Honourable Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, the inauguration was attended by personnel from the Indian Armed Forces, State Police, Coastguard, Paramilitary, the media and dignitaries from the Indian Administrative Service. The joint venture company, Punj Lloyd Raksha Systems (PLR) will be manufacturing small arms for the Indian Defence Forces and also for export.
Speaking on the occasion, Samy Katsav, Chairman, SK Group said, “We are indeed fortunate to have in Punj Lloyd a reliable and knowledgeable partner. It is after a lot of due diligence in the Indian market that we identified Punj Lloyd for this partnership. Through this collaboration, we offer the combination of battle proven combat technology of IWI and the proficiency of a renowned Indian business partner. I am extremely upbeat about the opportunities in the sector and confident of contributing to the Make in India programme.
Punj Lloyd Chairman, Atul Punj said, “This is the first opportunity for the country to get its own ‘Made in India’ Small Arms.The need of the hour is to replace the country’s defence weapons with sophisticated and high precision products and Punj Lloyd Raksha Systems is the answer to the country’s immediate need.” Further Mr Punj said, “These are tried and tested battle proven products already being used within the country. It is the first time in India that we are coming together with the complete technology to manufacture these products as ‘Made in India’.”
Present on the occasion, Michel Ben-Baruch, Head of SIBAT, Israel Ministry of Defence said, “Israel’s Ministry of Defense fully and wholeheartedly supports this cooperation and will continue to support the transfer of technology and information also in the future, for the betterment of improved advanced tools. Israel and India consider their defense industry cooperation as a monumental step forward, towards a future of immense potential. “
H.E. Daniel Carmon, Israel’s Ambassador to India said, “Now celebrating 25 years, India and Israel’s growing partnership is multifaceted and ever expanding. The relationship is built on the strengths of each country, contributing to the security and prosperity of both peoples. I applaud the establishment of joint cooperation ventures, such as between Punj Lloyd and Israel Weapons Industries, taking up Israeli President Rivlin’s call for Israel to ‘Make in India, Make with India’. I hope to see many more such joint endeavors ranging from Security to Food Security, Water to Cyber, Start-up to Space. ”
It is intuitively obvious that this decision will result in the adoption of an Indian-made license-produced IWI rifle and possibly also a machine gun as a replacement for the aging fleet of Indian infantry weapons, including the INSAS. The betting horse in this case is likely the Tavor (or X95) which has been used by Indian special forces since 2002, and which has also been license-produced by the OFB. However, it is also possible that the 7.62×39 Galil ACE may be chosen instead, due to its compatibility with the existing AKM architecture in Indian service. Regardless of which is adopted, the establishment of the new factory constitutes an implicit statement regarding the Indian government’s loss of faith in the ability of the OFB’s factories to produce quality weapons to meet Indian defense needs.