Indian Army soldier on the LoC
An Indian Army soldier keeps vigil on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.Reuters

The Indian Army has ordered for an emergency purchase of a very small number of advanced sniper rifles for its Northern command. The sniper rifles having longer ranges as well as modern telescopic sights will be supplied to the troops deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan. Under the General Officer Commander-in-Chief's (Northern Command) emergency financial power, the Army will receive 5,719 sniper rifles from global vendors to replace Soviet-era Dragonov SVD.

A source told the Financial Express "The Indian Army is getting sniper rifles from different vendors including Messers Beretta .338 Lapua Magmum Scorpio TGT of Italy and .50 Calibre Sniper Rifle M95 MS Berrett from the US. They are coming under the Buy Global category. The ammunition for these will be initially procured from abroad; subsequently, it will be manufactured in India."

Notably, the new sniper rifles, Beretta's.338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT and Barret t's .50-calibre M95 guns have an effective kill range from 1,500 to 1,800 metres which is higher than Dragonov SVD, the current sniper being used by the India Army.

The firsts of these snipers will be delivered to the Northern Army Command by January 20 and the entire "capital procurement" of 5,719 new 8.6mm sniper rifles to equip all the 382 infantry battalions of the Army will be completed in a couple of years.

In a media briefing, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said that "The Northern Command of the Indian Army taking care of the borders with Pakistan and some parts of Line of Actual Control is soon going to be equipped with the new sniper rifles from this month. On January 20th the new snipers will come for the Northern Command."

In recent times, sniping has become a major challenge for Indian troops along the 778-km long LoC. The Pakistani Army is better equipped with modern Remington modular sniper rifles as well as better training.

In contrast, the Indian Army is still using the Russian made 7.62mm Dragunov semi-automatic sniper rifles, which have a comparatively limited kill range of 800-metre and a design vintage of the 1960s. The hostile Jammu and Kashmir LoC regularly witnesses rampant ceasefire violation by Pakistani rangers. Earlier this week, a Major and a Jawan were martyred while patrolling along the border.