India's Ministry of Defence wants to purchase updated firearms for its troops. The Army will retire their Russian Dragunov SVD sniper rifles and has floated requests for proposals worth over $300 million.
Along with new snipers, the army also wants 17,000 new light machine guns for troops, notes a report by DefenceNews (DN). This purchase is expected to go through a "fast-track procurement procedure". Purchase to delivery is expected to happen between to six and 18 months.
Soldiers in the Indian Army currently use the Dragunov SVD 7.62 mm DMR chambered for the 7.62x54R (M1908) cartridge. It is an aging system that is in need of timely updates, however, exact requirements for the snipers are yet to be published. The report notes that the army will need a gun that can cover a range of at least 1,200 meters and have thermal imaging equipment, notes the report. Requests for proposals have been sent to several arms makers and defense contractors both within India and in other overseas markets.
While it is not clear why exactly the Indian Army wants to upgrade their sniper rifles, the report notes that the reliability of the SVD guns that were first made in 1963 is not as reliable anymore. Also, the availability of the M1908 cartridges is being seen as an issue now. According to a Times of India story quoted by DN, an unnamed army officer reportedly said that "the 7.62 mm Dragunov [sniper rifle] has been suffering from several problems," adding, "The [Indian] Army sources said these rifles fail to recognize targets at a distance of over 300 m at night; moreover, the shoulder-fired Dragunov does not possess adequate stability".
The report, however, says that the Dragunov is well known for its reliability in combat. First introduced by Kalashnikov in 1963, according to the company, the SVD is "considered the world's best army self-loading sniper rifle". It weighs 4.7 kg without a bayonet and its sights can have a reach of 1200 meters and has a magazine capacity of 10 bullets. The SVD is a designated marksman rifle. In December last year, reports emerged that the Russian army was also moving away from the Dragunov and replacing it with the T-5000 Tochnost, by ORSIS, capable of accurately taking out targets over 1,800 meters away.