India is reportedly poised to purchase a large number of 5.56x45mm carbines from the United Arab Emirates small arms manufacturer Caracal. A deal to buy almost 95,000 Caracal CAR816 rifles is said to have been agreed.
India Today reports that the negotiation of the carbine contract is ongoing but India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to confirm the procurement soon. India is eager to purchase a close quarters battle (CQB) weapon as part of their urgent operational requirements identified several years ago.
It appears that they are finally moving to purchase both a CQB weapon and a 7.62x51mm rifle. As we’ve previously reported in the same round of buying India will also be procuring 72,400 SIG716 G2 7.62x51mm rifles. SIG Sauer reportedly beat both Caracal, who submitted the CAR817, and IWI, who submitted the ACE, on price with a per rifle cost of $990.
Back in April 2018, TFB reported that Australian manufacturer Thales had entered into a partnership with MKU – an Indian equipment manufacturer. MKU/Thales hoped to sell F90 under the Indian government’s ‘Made in India’ initiative. It appears that the Caracal entry has beaten Thales’ F90 to win the contract.
While the 7.62x51mm rifle and the CQB contracts combined amount to some 166,000 rifles and go some way to meeting the Indian Army’s urgent operational needs, it does not solve the larger problem of what will replace the INSAS and assorted AK-pattern rifles currently in service. In August 2018, the Indian Army published a request for information (RFI) requiring 650,000 ‘State of the Art’ 7.62x39mm rifles. The status of negotiations with the Russian government for the licensed manufacture of the AK103 is unknown. Recent reports suggest that the negotiations may be nearing completion and that the Indian government are looking to establish a partnership with Kalashnikov Concern to produce the newer AK203.
In early January, however, the Indian Army also published an RFI requesting 3.6 lakhs or 360,000 5.56x45mm CQB carbines. This contract is seeking submissions that will be entirely produced in India with the RFI stating the contract will be for “‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ with ‘Buy’ component as ‘Nil’.” The RFI calls for a minimum effective range of 200m, accuracy “better than five Minutes of Angle” and the carbine should “be as light as possible.”
As always, TFB will keep you updated on India’s ongoing small arms saga.