In a major boost to the Indian troops guarding borders along the Line of Actual (LAC), the new batch of Sig Sauer assault rifles procured from the United States would be given to these soldiers. The development has come as both sides ramping up their defences as the conflict prolongs. Recently, the Indian government had cleared the acquisition of the second batch of around 72,500 Sig Sauer assault rifles from the US under fast track procedures for the Army.
First batch of already deployed in J&K
It is to be noted that the first batch of these American rifles has already been delivered to Indian Army stationed in Jammu and Kashmir for the counter-insurgency operations. "The first lot of these assault rifles was provided to the troops deployed in the counter-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir. A second lot of the guns would be for the troops deployed on the China front in Eastern Ladakh and other areas," reported news agency ANI quoting a government source.
The Indian government is providing the best guns to the troops stationed in the forward areas. These newly built rifles will be replacing the existing Indian Small Arms System (Insas) 5.56x45mm that is manufactured by Ordnance Factories Board (OFB).
India's long quest for assault rifle
As per the modernization programme, the Army wants to replace, its highly controversial INSAS rifles, which were in the headlines for all negative reasons. The Army has been driven to the wall by constant jamming, cracking of her plastic magazine and its lacklustre results. The Army was swift to replace the INSAS rifle with a much lighter and deadlier AK-47 in operational areas such as Jammu and Kashmir.
The Army discarded an indigenous assault rifle named 5.56 mm Excalibur Guns in 2016 because it did not live up to its standards. When the Army rejected the 7.62x51 mm assault rifle produced by Rifle Factory Ishapore after it miserably failed the firing tests, local production faced another setback. Finally, a decision was taken by Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) to produce 6.7 lakh assault rifles (AK-203) locally in Amethi.
The firm is a joint venture between the OFB (Ordnance Factory Board) of India and Rosoboronexport and Kalashnikov of Russia. While the company only began operations in March 2019, the actual production was postponed because the company only took 13 months to submit a techno-commercial offer. For these different reasons, the military relied on its emergency power and ordered an additional 72,500 Sig Sauer 716 assault rifles for its counter-insurgency troops in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East.