Armed forces launch new process to procure over 4,800 sniper rifles with 78 lakh ammo
The Indian Armed Forces has launched a new process to procure over 4,800 sniper rifles at a cost of over Rs 450 crore after the Defense Procurement Board last month granted acceptance of the requirement (AoN ) for the purchase.
In a request for information (RFI) issued on Tuesday, the military said that around 4,800 .338 scoped sniper rifles will be procured under the “Buy Indian” category with 78 lakh ammunition.
According to defense sources, around 4,500 sniper rifles will go to the army, more than 200 to the Indian Air Force and the rest to the navy.
According to RFI, the new sniper rifles will use .338 Lapua Magnum ammunition and have a range of 1,200 meters or more.
They must have a lifespan of at least 10 years or 5,000 rounds and the ammunition must also have a shelf life of 10 years.
The RFI indicates that the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the procurement would be tentatively issued by September this year.
The recent RFI marks the Defense Force’s latest attempt to purchase the long-range weapon.
Amid increased threats of sniper attacks, especially on the line of control, and to gain a tactical advantage over the enemy from a distance, the army is trying to obtain new sniper rifles advanced for five years to replace the aging Soviet era. Vintage Dragunov sniper rifle from 1963, used by the army since the 1990s.
In 2018, the Defense Acquisition Board headed by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh authorized the purchase of 5,700 high-precision sniper rifles at an estimated cost of Rs 982 crore under the ‘Buy Global’ categorization. The Ministry of Defense then declared that their ammunition would then be manufactured in India.
A tender for the purchase of 5,700 sniper rifles subsequently launched was abandoned in June 2019 due to the lack of sufficient responses from companies, which could also manufacture their ammunition, and after the technical evaluation committee declared non-compliant suppliers.
WHY THE REQUIREMENT HAS BEEN REVISED
Fueled by the growing threats of sniper attacks on the Line of Control (LoC), Northern Command in 2019 – using the special financial powers of the commander – purchased two new sniper rifles in limited quantities .
This included the Barrett M95 .50 BMG from the United States and the Beretta Victrix Scorpio TGT from Italy, with .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges.
Subsequently, the army also made an emergency purchase of a limited quantity of Finnish Sako .338 TRG-42 sniper rifles last year. Rifles have already been inducted by snipers in the LoC.
While the latest RFI appears to be a reduction of the original requirement of 5,700 sniper rifles to 4,800, defense sources said a revision to the requirement was made after specific quantities of various rifles advanced sniper weapons were purchased through emergency routes and using special powers.
“The requirements were revised after other advanced sniper rifles were inducted into the interim period. As the troops were using .338 Sako sniper rifles, the latest RFI decided to follow the same requirement,” a source said.
The source added that the range of Dragunov sniper rifles, which use a 7.62×54mm rimmed cartridge, is 600-800 meters. “The new sniper rifles will have a range of over a kilometer,” the source added.
Sources said the requirement for the sniper rifle also stemmed from an increased need for high-precision, long-range weapons, especially for counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.
“Weapons can deal a deadly blow to the enemy by surprising him, while leaving the sniper to remain anonymous and also without escalating tensions,” the source quoted above said.
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