The American and Russian rifles that are replacing the INSAS
Though the Indian Army has received the first batch of Sig Sauer last year, the governments of India and Russia are yet to sign the final deal for the advanced assault rifle AK-203, which are to be produced at Amethi-based Korwa Ordnance Factory Board in Uttar Pradesh.
US-made assault rifles Sig Sauer and Russian-origin AK-203 rifles will be the mainstay of the Indian Army's inventories in the years to come.
Though the Indian Army has received the first batch of Sig Sauer last year, the governments of India and Russia are yet to sign the final deal for the advanced assault rifle AK-203, which are to be produced at Amethi-based Korwa Ordinance Factory Board in Uttar Pradesh.
India received the first tranche of 72,400 Sig Sauer rifles under the Fast Track Process last year at a cost of around Rs 700 crore. The rifles were provided to troops posted in the frontline along the northern border.
A few months back, the US-origin rifles were also provided to the infantry battalions posted in the western front -- guarding the areas of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Amidst the ongoing border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, India placed another order of over 72,000 rifles last year for Rs 780 crore with the US to equip not only the frontline soldiers but all the infantry battalions. Indian Army has around 400 infantry battalions.
"The troops posted in the northern and western border areas were given the Sig Sauer rifles and at least two companies of remaining infantry battalions will also be equipped with this gun," sources in the defence establishment said.
After intense negotiations for over two years between New Delhi and Moscow, Russia's Kalashnikov designed and developed advanced assault rifle AK-203 has finally entered the final stage of contract signing.
A joint venture Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited between OFB, Kalashnikov and Rosoboronexport was set up with OFB having a majority stake at 50.5 per cent to manufacture the rifles at Amethi.
Primarily stuck due to differences over pricing, the negotiations gained pace after the defence ministry set up a pricing committee in June last year and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to Russia in September last year for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Defence Ministers' Meet.
During the annual press conference ahead of Army Day on January 15, 2021, Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane had told media persons that "negotiations are at an advanced stage and all issues and differences have been sorted out".
Even the Russian side had also confirmed that "all technical and commercial issues have been agreed" and that the deal is at its final stage. A total of 6.7 lakh AK-203 rifles will be produced in the next decade at Korwa OFB.
Sig Sauer and AK-203 will replace the OFB-made Indian small arms system (INSAS) rifles, which the Indian Army is using as of now.
Sig Sauer and INSAS
As per the Army personnel, the INSAS rifles have many glitches as they used to get jammed. Through INSAS rifles, terrorists cannot be killed they can only be injured with the 5.56 mm calibre bullet. The Sig Sauer bullet is 7.26 mm which is bigger than INSAS.
"Sig Sauer is more accurate and lethal as it is made for shoot to kill. One bullet for one enemy," said an official.
It has an effective killing range of 600 meters against around 400 meters for the INSAS. Another advantage is that Sig Sauer can be used by both left and right-handed soldiers. It has sights to aim and fire.