To modernize its infantry and Special Forces, the India Army which is the world’s largest importer of small arms is expected to import Carbines, Light Machine Guns, and Rifles. It is expected to cost around Rs 3500 crore.
The Ordnance Factory Board has not been able to deliver a weapon which is suitable for the use of the Indian Army. It has failed in helping the Indian Army replace its old weapons being used by the infantry which were introduced decades ago.
Atmanirbhar Bharat in Defence
The Indian Army has no standardized single caliber, and this has resulted in different calibers being used by the Infantry soldier. Procurements are being made through Fast Track Procedure (FTP). In 2020, Financial Express Online had reported that under the FTP, the Indian Army was getting 72,000 rifles from US gun-maker SIG Sauer.
Plans to import 93,895 Close Quarter Carbines (CQB) from the UAE have been cancelled. The production of 750,000 AK-203 rifles in partnership with Russia continues to be on hold as the issues related to the work share as well the cost have yet to be resolved.
Are there any Indian companies in Small Arms?
PLR Systems is an Indian Joint Venture with Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) to manufacture the entire range of IWI weapons from MASADA pistol/Uzi Sub Machine Gun, TAVOR, NEGEV and Galil family of weapons in India. The PLR plant came up in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh in 2017 and since then PLR has supplied Made in India X95-Micro Tavor Carbines, Uzi SMG and Galil Sniper Rifles to Indian state police and CAPF.
Kalyani Group has been a traditional supplier of components and subsystems to the Indian defence sector.The company’s product profile includes a series of small arms – Assault Rifle 7.62 x 39mm, CQB Carbine 5.56 x 45mm, Light Machine Gun 7.62 x 51mm, Protective Carbine 5.56 x 30mm, Sniper Rifle 7.62 x 51mm and Sniper Rifle 8.6mm.
Jindal Stainless (Hisar) Ltd signed a joint venture agreement with Taurus Armas SA, Brazil for transfer of technology to manufacture small arms in India. Taurus is a leading firearms manufacturer having products in service with many countries. The product range includes a wide range of small arms such as 5.56mm carbine/assault rifle, 7.62mm assault rifle, 9mm pistol for the armed forces and also Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB) small arms like the .32 revolver/ pistol for the civilian market.
Interaction with SSS Defence
SSS Defence is defence and aerospace umbrella brand of Stumpp, Schuele and Somappa Springs Pvt Ltd which is a company with more than 70 years of manufacturing experience. The defence arm of the company focuses on manufacturing weapons and weapon systems; in particular small arms, ammunition, high-end optics and firearm accessories and tactical gear for military and law enforcement.
In business since 2017, SSS Defence has small arms, ammunition and military optics as platforms. Its products include the Saber, a .338 Lapua Magnum long range sniper weapon; the Viper, a 7.62X51 mm tactical sniper weapon; and the P-72 family of rifles. Soon to come are products for the international civilian and sport shooting market. The company’s small arms platform is a 100 per cent Indian owned company and has no foreign joint ventures.
Raaj Nair, Vice President Global Business & Govt Accounts, SSS Defence, shares updates about the company.
Following are excerpts:
What kind of small arms does your company make?
SSS Defence SABER – A .338 Lapua Magnum Tactical long range sniper rifle
SSS Defence VIPER – A 7.62×51 NATO Tactical sniper rifle
P-72 Family of Assault rifles, Carbines and Designated Marksman Rifles (DMR): The entire platform is available in chambering of 7.62×39, 7.62×51 NATO and 5.56×45 NATO
AK47 upgrade kits; and DSR Dargunov upgrade kits
Have your weapons been tested by the Indian Armed Forces? What is the outcome?
Trials of our Sniper Rifles and upgrade kits are under progress with various Special Forces of and Infantry units of Indian Armed Forces and Paramilitary forces.
Where do you place yourself with global small arms manufacturers?
SSS Defence designs and builds complete platforms for individual & crew served weapon systems. Our major focus areas include – Future infantry small arms & light weapons – Small & Medium calibre ammunition – Tactical & Military optics and – Firearm accessories & Tactical gear Our synergistic “one-company” approach of finding solutions that combines elements of our various activities, positions us to meet evolving customer requirements in the global defence and homeland security market.
What are your latest kits you have come out with?
Version 2 of our Snipers, AK 47 upgrade kits and DSR Dragunov upgrade kits.
The company has tied up with a Brazilian company. Is there any update on the venture?
SSS Defence along with our strategic partner – CBC Global ammunition, intends to produce a range of standard small & medium calibre ammunition rounds. Significant R&D efforts will be pursued in the areas of lightweight cases, improved armour piercing capability and next generation projectiles. The portfolio of ammunition that we intend to make available in India include the following
• 9×19 mm Parabellum
• 5.56×45 mm NATO
• 7.62X51 mm NATO
• 7.62X39 mm
• .338 Lapua Magnum/8.6×70 mm
• 12.7×99 mm and 12.7×108 mm
What about exports? The MoD has come out with a list of equipment/platforms that can be exported. Which countries are you looking at?
Yes, we are very keen on exports of our weapons and ammunition. I am happy to announce that there are some serious interests shown in our products by many foreign countries for their military and police forces. Our immediate attention is towards the friendly nations in the neighbourhood, Africa, North & South America.
Indian Army’s Northern Command is all set to receive the first batch of Light Machine Gun (LMG) Negev NG-7 from Israel, which has come through the fast-track procurement process (FTP).
The troops deployed along the Line of Actual Control and Line of Control (LOC) will be getting 6,000 of the 7.62X51 mm LMGs, which come with belt ammunition capability. And are going to replace the 5.56x45mm INSAS LMG, which is a derivative of the INSAS assault rifle.
When the ceasefire violations by Pakistan were at its peak last March at the LOC, the Indian Army through the Fast Track Procurement procedure had placed an order for 16,479 Israeli LMGs, valued at Rs 800 crore. The balance LMGs will be delivered later this year.
However, the Indian Army is looking to order LMGs which will be through the Make in India route. In 2018 February, the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the LMGs through FTP was given by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). For this deal, a large delegation from the Indian Army had visited Bulgaria, South Korea and Israel. India’s Special Forces are already using the Negev, which has higher lethal firepower.