India has expanded its search for hightech assault rifles, carbines and small arms for its frontline soldiers, but has excluded its traditional ally, Russia, from the list of five countries that the Army-led procurement team plans to visit mid-June.
The team is set to visit gun manufacturers in the US, Israel and South Korea, and even countries from where India has never bought military equipment, a defence ministry official said.
The shortlisted manufacturers include Colt and Sig Sauer of the US and Israel Weapon Industries.
The manufacturers had expressed their willingness to tie up with India in their responses to the Request for Proposals (RFPs) for procuring 72,400 assault rifles, 93,895 carbines and other small arms for frontline troops based under the Fast Track Procedure (FTP). The RFP was given to 12 vendors.
“Russia had also responded positively to the assault rifle RFP, but it didn’t have the calibre we are looking for, so there’s no point going there,” explained the official.
The team will be led by a major-general rank officer and will have representatives from the Directorate General of Quality Assurance, defence ministry, Army’s EME (Electronics and Mechanical Engineers) and infantry corps.
These manufacturers will come to India between July and August for further tests, and the trial team will try to ensure that demonstrations are done on a fast-track basis.
An advantage of the FTP is that there are no lengthy user trials. The FTP also allows procuring equipment which are in service. After the demonstrations, the lowest bidder (L1) will be selected for supplying the weapons to the army.