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Heavy machine gun on Indian Army's wishlist

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NEW DELHI (PTI): To provide more fire power to its infantry soldiers and mechanised forces, Indian Army is eyeing a new 12.7mm heavy machine gun (HMG) that can hit targets accurately within a 2,000-metre range.

The Army has issued a request for information for a 40-kg HMG that it wants to mount on Light Strike Vehicles and Infantry Fighting Vehicles, apart from use by its foot soldiers.

The .50 calibre HMG should be capable of firing ammunition such as high explosive (incendiary), armour piercing high explosive, armour piercing discarding sabot and useful for target practice.

"The weapon should have the capability to be used from the Light Strike Vehicle and Infantry Fighting Vehicle and in ground role while being mounted on vehicle and tripod respectively," the RFI, issued recently, said.

"The weapon should be easy to carry by a three-men crew in dismantled condition and be assembled with ease while being used in ground role," it said.

The rate of fire of the weapon should be "not less than" 450 rounds per minute, it has stipulated. The HMG should have three different modes of operation -- single shot, semi-automatic and automatic fire.

The weapon should have a fire control system that could be operated both manually and electrically. The system should come with a spare barrel, which can be changed quickly in field conditions, it said.

The Army has stipulated that the weapon should have a life of about 50,000 rounds and the smoke generated while firing should not obscure the observation of the firer.

It also wants a blast suppressor on the HMG to reduce the recoil and blast effect.

The Army expects the weapon to be robust enough to withstand rough usage and simple to maintain in operational conditions normally encountered in India like high-altitude areas, jungles and deserts.

The HMG would have sighting systems including optical magnification, open sight and thermal imaging sight. It should be easy to strip and assemble in the field by the user without any special tools, the RFI said.

The Army has earlier used American, Russian and Israeli-made HMGs, but most of the 350 infantry units had discarded them except for use in taking out softer targets such as bunkers and vehicles.

Currently, the infantrymen use assault rifles, sub-machine guns, light machine guns and sniper rifles.

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