As India continues its unprecedented effort to modernise its Army’s small arms, fresh news of one of the early procurement efforts has emerged. Could a deal with Caracal for nearly 100,000 carbines be close to fruition?
Back in early 2019 news of a flurry of intended procurements emerged as the Indian Army launched its long overdue modernisation effort. This saw orders for 7.62x51mm rifles from SIG Sauer and light machine guns from Israel’s IWI. At the same time, however, there was also a requirement for a 5.56x45mm CQB carbine. An order for 95,000 carbines from United Arab Emirates small arms manufacturer Caracal International was reported in February 2019. While the other purchases reported around the same time have been finalised and in some cases delivered, news on the Caracal order has been sparse.
India’s The Print have reported that the Defence Acquisition Council could soon decide on the signing of the contract with Caracal. Caracal’s response to the initial tender was reportedly the lowest bidder and the contract that was supposed to be fast tracked. The Indian Army launched its first RFI for CQB Carbines in June 2017, with a second RFI published in August 2018.
Fast Track Procurement (FTP) of 93,895 carbines was planned with the second RFI. While it is unknown which model the Indian military have selected, Caracal offer two AR-pattern 5.56x45mm carbines, the CAR-814 and the CAR-816. The CAR-814 is Caracal’s M4 clone available in barrel lengths from 11.5” to 16”. The CAR-816 is a piston-driven AR with three gas settings and barrel lengths from 7.5” to 16” available. Given that Caracal’s successful bid was the most cost effective, it is likely India selected a short barrelled version of the CAR-814.
A second tandem effort to procure indigenously produced carbines was also launched in early January 2019, when the Indian Army also published an RFI requesting 3.6 lakhs or 360,000 5.56x45mm CQB carbines. This request for information sought submissions that would be entirely produced in India with the RFI stating the contract would be for “‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ with ‘Buy’ component as ‘Nil’.” The RFI called for a minimum effective range of 200m, accuracy “better than five Minutes of Angle” and the carbine should “be as light as possible.”
In the months leading up to this rather open ended requirement, a number of joint ventures with non-Indian companies partnering with Indian manufacturers were spawned. These included Punj Lloyd Raksha Systems pairing with IWI to produce X95, and now the ARAD and Carmel, in India. As well as partnerships made by Thales to enter the EF88 into India’s upcoming Close Quarter Battle Rifle trials.