New Delhi: The armed forces will get some much needed firepower soon as the Defence Acquisition Council approved the procurement of light machine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles worth Rs 15,935 crore on a fast-track basis.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday. The large chunk of the acquisition includes the purchase of 7.40 lakh assault rifles at a cost of Rs 12,280 crore for the three services, officials said. These rifles will be ‘Made in India’ under the categorisation of 'Buy and Make (Indian)', through both Ordnance Factory Board and private firms. They will, however, follow designs from foreign manufacturers.
The defence ministry will also procure an undisclosed number of light machine guns worth Rs 1,819 crore, the DAC said. This procurement will meet the operational requirement of the troops deployed on the borders.
In other decisions, a proposal for purchase of 5,719 sniper rifles for the army at a cost of Rs 982 crore was also approved. While these high-precision weapons will be bought with ‘Buy Global’ categorisation, the ammunition for these will be initially imported and subsequently manufactured in India.
The armed forces had flagged the need for new guns 11 years ago. Soldiers have been using AK-47 and indigenous INSAS rifles since 1988. The plan to equip them with updated guns has been marred by several delays.
In the last one month, to equip the soldiers on the border with modern and more effective equipment, the DAC has fast tracked procurement of the three main personal weapons - Rifles, Carbines and Light Machine Guns.
The Defence Acquisition Council also approved the procurement of Advanced Torpedo Decoy Systems for the Indian Navy. The Mareech ATDS system has been designed by Defence Research and Development Organisation, officials said. The systems will be procured by Bharat Electronics Limited in Bengaluru for an estimated cost of Rs 850 crore, they added.
Last month, to encourage participation of private sector in defence design and production and to give a boost to 'Make in India' programme, the DAC had also introduced significant changes in the 'Make II' category of the Defence Procurement Procedure.
The DAC simplified the procedure to make it industry friendly, with minimal government control.
The revised procedure will now allow the defence ministry to accept suo motu proposals from the industry and also allow start-ups to develop equipment for the armed forces.