As India pushes for increased participation of the private sector in defence production, a firm in Bengaluru’s Koramangala has, in a first for an Indian firm, designed and developed two sniper rifles prototypes meant for the armed forces, indigenously. SSS Defence, which has begun work on constructing an 80,000 sqft arms factory at Jigani, 28km from Bengaluru, is hopeful of putting the two weapons on trial with the special forces soon, even as it has its eyes locked on the export market.
“We are the first to indigenously design and develop sniper rifles. We’ve not acquired ready-made technology from abroad to only assemble. And that we are not only going to offer the weapon, but also provide a complete solution giving users ammunitions, optics and other accessories necessary to operate the weapon, makes us unique. As on date the armed forces buy all of these from different companies,” Vivek Krishnan, CEO, SSS Defence, told TOI.
India opened up arms manufacturing to private firms only in the previous term of the Narendra Modi government. While there have been reports of some firms being in talks with foreign arms makers to get manufacturing rights for arms, no company has so far announced design and development of any rifle, let alone those meant for sniping.
The army has been looking to acquire sniper rifles, which has been delayed because of the 20 firms that participated in a tender issued last year, none offered ammunition.
SSS Defence has developed two rifles: Viper, chambered for .308/7.62x51mm cartridge and Saber, chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge. While Viper has proved its accuracy from a distance of more than 1,000 metres, Saber has proved it on a 1,500 metres range. The Minute of Angle (MoA), which is used to measure the accuracy of rifles, the firm claimed, is best in the class, comparable to global weapons.
“Rifles chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO and .338 Lapua Magnum calibers are popular among military and law enforcement snipers across the world,” Satish R Machani, managing director, SSS Defence, said, adding that their weapons provide precision to long range rifle to shooters.
Stating that the design is based on the armed forces’ most recent requirements, Machani said they have already tested the weapons in the US, where it met all requirements. The rifles have modular, lightweight and ergonomically adjustable sniper chassis, which is rugged, reconfigurable, low maintenance, and manufactured from aerospace grade aluminum alloys. The firm said they are impervious to foul weather conditions, and hot/cold temperature extremes.
“The rifle has an ergonomically adjustable shoulder stock, which will prove very useful for our armed forces, which have men and women from different parts of the country who are built differently,” Krishnan said.
So far, the firm has invested nearly Rs 20 crore in the business if small arms, optics and ammunition and has started work on building an 80,000 sqft arms factory at Jigani.
“This facility will be manufacturing arms and have a capacity to make 15,000 arms per annum from day one of the first phase. Capacity will then increase to 45,000 arms per annum in the second phase (January 2022) and 80,000 per annum in some years in the third phase,” Krishnan added.
Besides, Machani said that the firm has also acquired an 80-acre plot for an ammunition factory near Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, some 200km from Bengaluru. “This factory will manufacture multiple ammunition calibers — 9mm, 7.62x39mm, 7.62x51mm, .338 Lapua and 12.7mm for export markets and domestic demand,” he added.