In an effort to find a new light machine gun a team of Indian Army and Defense Officials have started a tour to visit firearms manufacturers, including Arsenal in Bulgaria. The tour then continues to Israel and Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), before heading on to South Korea for a visit to S&T Motiv (previously Daewoo Precision Industries).
A variety of machine guns are currently in service including the FN MAG, the Bren in 7.62×51, the PKM. In January the Indian Army posted a request for information from manufacturers for a 7.62x51mm light machine gun, with a possible order for 40,000. The RFI, however, is typically vague requesting the gun “should be as light as possible in weight” and “achieving accuracy better than four Minutes of Angle up to a range of minimum of 800 metres.”
I think S&T Motiv (formerly S&T Daewoo) is the least known of the three, but they equip most of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces.
SIG Sauer (USA) was also on the list, but as they won the order for 72,400 SIG Sauer 712-G2s as well as other major contracts for the US Army they had to pull out as the factory was too busy. (Read more about those details here: India buys 72,000 SIG Sauer 716-G2 and here CONFIRMED: SIG Sauer SIG716 for India.)
The team is set out to evaluate and source 7.62 mm (7.62×51) Light Machine Guns (LMGs). The contract size is reported to be for around 16,400 LMGs.
The requirement is that the LMG takes belted ammunition, as the Indians have a requirement for a sustained rate of fire which magazine-fed LMGs cannot offer. The team is said to be looking for a 7.62x51mm LMG which offers more firepower to replace the 5.56x45mm INSAS LMG.
Once the tour is finished and some conclusions have been made, at least two but possibly all three vendors will be invited to India to carry out compatibility and reliability tests with Indian Ordnance Factory Board-produced ammunition.
What are India Looking At?
There are no details about which Light Machine Gun models they are looking at, only the brands. This means we can only speculate, and below you can find some likely candidates.
From IWI, they could potentially be looking for the NEGEV LMG in 7.62X51mm, the only Light Machine Gun 7.62X51mm with a semi-automatic mode, with a 508 mm or 420 mm barrel length. The IMI Negev in 5.56 is currently in use with some elements of India’s special forces.
Again, from South Korea and S&T Motiv, we can only speculate but a guess is their S&T Motiv K12 which is chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO and replaced their old M60 machine gun for Republic of Korea Armed Forces.
Once we know we will get back with updated information. Which company and which model do you think will win?