An Indian army soldier during Exercise Yudh Abyas 09, a bilateral exercise involving the Armies of India and the United States. A file photo.
NEW DELHI (PTI): Five companies are left in the fray to supply multi-calibre assault rifles for replacing the indigenous INSAS rifles of the Indian Army.
In the global Request for Proposal issued to 34 vendors, five companies including American Beretta and Colt, Israeli IWI, Switzerland's Sig-Sauer and Czech Republic's Ceska are left in the race for the tender, Army officials said here.
Under the tender, the Army has stated requirement for over 60,000 new assault rifles which should have two barrels that can be used in different types of operations, they said.
The Army wants the new rifles to be equipped with barrels of 7.62 mm and 5.56mm calibre bullets for counter-insurgency operations and conventional warfare respectively, they said.
The sources said such a rifle would also help in saving cost for procuring two different types of guns for troops. It would require only three parts, including the barrel and the magazine, to be changed which would be possible at the unit level only.
The Army wants the new guns not to be heavier than 3.6 kgs, almost half kilogram lighter than the INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifles. It has sought complete transfer of technology from the vendors so that the guns can be license produced at Indian ordnance factories.
The force also wants the rifles to be equipped with under barrel grenade launchers and capable of firing indigenously- produced ammunition.
The INSAS rifles, designed by the DRDO, were inducted into the armed forces in the 90s. They have been used in the Kargil War and counter-insurgency operations also.
In its early days, the INSAS rifles had faced reliability problems in cold climate in places such as Kashmir Valley and Siachen glacier.