Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag has asked his commanders to provide feedback on the changes to be made to the modified INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifles, the Deccan Herald reported, citing sources.
The Indian Army could be wary of the 5.56 mm INSAS rifle, which has been associated with several issues like weapon jamming, overheating, magazines getting cracked due to cold weather and the rifle going into automatic firing in the event of it falling on the ground.
Nevertheless, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) that manufactured these rifles has since rectified the issues, but the Indian Army was still not convinced and had put out a global tender for multi-calibre rifles, which saw the participation of the likes of Beretta, Israel Weapon Industries, SIG Sauer and others. But the tender was cancelled in 2015 after the rifles on offer did not meet the technical specifications drawn up for the weapon.
This meant that the Army has to rely on the modified INSAS rifles. This latest development comes as Singh chairs a five-day Army Commander's conference, starting April 25. So, he has reportedly asked his commanders to give feedback that might help to fix the issues, including the changes to the calibre from the current 5.56 mm.
Recently, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar informed Parliament that the OFB was working on a project that would develop new INSAS rifle with the same 5.56 mm calibre but featuring foldable butt, weighing lesser by four kgs and with a range of 450 mts.
With the earlier proposal by the Indian Army likely ruled out, it proposed interchangeable barrels for both 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm rounds, which could have been handy in close combats and in conventional conflicts, the report said.
Previously, several publications had reported of Excalibur assault rifle of the OFB that had passed the water and mud tests. It features "direct gas-tapping angle" that reduced recoil in the rifle. The rifle features foldable butt and Picatinny rail on the barrel for mounting of telescopic sights or laser sights. It also features two settings, single shot or automatic, thus ditching INSAS' three-round burst, which had created complications in the design.