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SOURCE: DH News Service

Indian Army has once again changed the specifications of the assault rifles it wants to buy, the fourth time in the last seven year. In February 2017, it issued a Request for Information (RFI), the first step in the military tendering process, for 5.5 lakh assault rifles of 7.62×51 mm calibre with a range of 500-550 mt. The rifles were to be made in India.

As an emergency purchase, the army is in the process of buying another 72,400 assault rifles of such calibre from a foreign vendor using a fast track route.

But last week the army issued a fresh RFI to buy 6.5 lakh assault rifles of the lower caliber of 7.62 x 39 mm with a minimum range of 300 mt. This means these rifles would be having a lesser firing range and a different barrel from the ones that would be purchased from abroad. It cancels the previous RFI.

This is the fourth change of specifications since 2011 when the Army issued the first tender document to change its home-made INSAS rifles (5.6 x 46 mm). The decision to change the rifle was taken in 2007 but the first RFI was issued only in 2011.

The first RFI was for a dual-calibre rifle that allows two types of ammunition with an interchangeable barrel —7.62 x 39mm and 5.56 x 45mm. The tender was withdrawn in 2015. A second attempt to buy the replacement was also scrapped.

The third attempt happened in 2017 was on the basis of Army’s changed operational philosophy of “shoot to kill” rather than maiming the enemy.

The fourth change within a year’s time, sources said, could be due to a combination of factors including budgetary constraints.

A meeting with the prospective vendors is tentatively scheduled on September 10 and the Request for Proposal – the second stage in the military tendering process – is likely around December 2018, sources said.