The Indian Army will soon get its second batch for 72,000 US-built SIG716 G2 assault rifles as the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, cleared the procurement in its meeting earlier today.
The Army had placed the first order for 72,400 of these rifles in February 2019 under the fast-track programme at a cost of around Rs 700 crore and started receiving its first pieces under this deal in December 2019. The maker of the rifle, Sig Sauer Inc, will complete the delivery by the end of this year.
This purchase of these rifles, which will cost Rs 780 crore, is part of a larger plan to improve the capabilities of infantry units of the Army.
The procurement of these rifles has been cleared by the government at a time when the Indian and Chinese Armies are locked in a tense standoff at multiple points along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.
The Army is currently equipping soldiers involved in counter-interagency with SIG716 rifles, while the wider requirement of assault rifles for regular infantry units will be met with the procurement of AK-103s manufactured by a joint venture of Russia’s Kalashnikov and India’s Ordnance Factory Board in Amethi.
Aimed at replacing INSAS rifles designed and built indigenously in India by the Ordnance Factory Board, the 7.62×51 mm SIG716 comes with a 16-inch barrel, M-LOK™ handguard, and a 6-position telescoping stock.
To build this platform, maker Sig Sauer has taken “proven features of SIG516 and applied them into a potent AR-based rifle chambered in 7.62 x 51mm.”
The India-Russia deal for the manufacturing of 7 lakh AK-203 rifles, however, has hit a roadblock over differences in pricing. With Covid-19 protocols in place, the joint venture coming up in Amethi is unlikely to start production this year.