Various Indian media outlets have reported that the Indian Army has received delivery of the first batch of IWI Negev light machine guns which were ordered back in March 2020. The order for more than 16,0000 Negevs was a part of a series of purchases by the Indian military which saw not just light machine guns but also rifles, carbines and precision rifles.
The Negev order followed a tour by senior Indian officers of a number of manufacturers’ facilities to select weapons for immediate procurement. As a result, 16,479 Negev NG7 7.62×51mm light machine guns were ordered under a Fast Track Procedure contract (essentially as an urgent operational requirement) at a cost of $118 million. At the time the Indian government’s press bureau confirmed that the NG7s would fulfill a “long-standing requirement of a modern state-of-the-art Light Machine Gun.”
The first consignment of 6,000 Negevs arrived in January, the remaining 10,000 or so NG7s are expected to be delivered by the end of March. The Indian Army’s current light machine gun requirement stands at 40,000 with 7.62×51mm Indian-produced Bren light machine guns and FN MAG general purpose machine guns in service.
We recently shared a photograph from IWI’s factory in Israel which showed rack after rack of Negevs awaiting shipping, it’s likely that some of those guns were destined for India.
I recently explored some of the troubles and nuances of India’s small arms procurement and industry which have combined to make the Indian military’s search for new small arms complicated. In recent years we’ve seen real progress in India’s efforts to reequip its military. The IWI Negev order represents part of this new initiative to better arm India’s soldiers. The relatively small Negev order, however, is at odds with the Modi government’s official ‘Make In India’ policy which calls for the majority of the Indian Army’s weapons to be procured from Indian owned or part-owned/based companies.
It remains to be seen if India will standardise on IWI’s NG7, and if they do who and where the remaining 40,000 light machine guns might be produced. The most obvious answer would be a contract with Indian small arms company PLR which is partnered directly with IWI as a joint venture. It remains unclear if PLR’s factory is yet capable of producing entire weapons.