With India’s armed forces still awaiting a new service rifle, it seems that Indian Special Forces are forging on ahead. Indian media outlets have reported that India’s Para (Special Forces) unit have selected the 7.62x51mm FN SCAR-H along with a number of other weapons.
The selection has reportedly been approved by the Indian Ministry of Defence and includes a substantial package which would see the current IWI TAR-21 Tavor supplemented by both the SCAR-H and SCAR-L. The package is reported to include 715 Mk48 light machine guns, 1,050 SCAR-H rifles, 1,400 SCAR-L or HK416s, 110 FN-produced .50 cal Browning heavy machine guns, 400 sets of helmet-mounted night vision goggles, 600 combat free-fall parachutes, 100 Barrett M107A1 anti-materiel rifles and 20 million rounds of assorted ammunition.
The procurement is to be made through Indian Army budgets and not as part of a larger Ministry of Defence procurement. This sidesteps the Indian government’s design to focus on ‘Made In India’ procurement. The orders will be made via the US government on behalf of India via the Foreign Military Sales system. The Indian press report the cost of the procurement package at around Rs 800 crore, which roughly equates to $106 million, making it a major order.
India’s Police Seek New Service Rifles
In other news out of India, the government’s Ministry of Home Affairs has begun discussions with a large number of companies to procure new assault rifles for a number of Indian police forces. The Economic Times of India reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs has been in talks with 17 private Indian manufacturers including large companies, that aren’t necessarily involved in the arms manufacturing industry, such as Larsen & Toubro, Vem Technologies, Godrej, Kalyani Strategic, Shyam Arms, Premier Explosives and HYT.
The scope of the requirement and the potential contracts for rifles are huge. Police forces and paramilitary units across India require new weapons including the Assam Rifles, the National Security Guard, the Central Industrial Security Force, the Sashastra Seema Bal (paramilitary border force), the Central Reserve Police Force, the Border Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. These organisations have been asked to provide requirements for the types of small arms they need for Indian industry to respond.
This push to engage India’s private industry rather than call on the network of State-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) plants across India could be seen as a play in the ongoing dispute with the OFB’s workforce who, as we have reported previously, are threatening strike action in response to government attempts to ‘corporatise’ the OFB factories. The push also comes as part of the Indian government’s ‘Made In India’ program, which the Para (Special Forces) procurement sidesteps.