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SOURCE: The Statesman

The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is at present uncertain as to when the Indian Army will place orders with its Ishapore Rifle Factory, in West Bengal, so it can begin bulk manufacturing of the 7.62x51mm assault rifle, launched during the ‘Atmanirbhar Week’.

With the Central government stressing on its self reliance scheme that hopes to boost manufacturing in India, the defence sector is now relying on indigenous products. A ban was put on import of 101 defence items which included assault rifles of 7.62 mm calibres.

An OFB official, requesting anonymity, told The Statesman, “The Ishapore Rifle Factory had developed a prototype of the 7.62x51mm rifle in response to the Uri attack in September 2016 and OFB intended to build a more powerful rifle than its INSAS 5.56 mm calibre rifles. The prototype was developed in a record four months which “impressed” the Ministry of Defence who formed a Project Monitoring Team (PMT) to guide the “developmental” process”

“The weapon is now in a perfected stage. But we are unable to begin bulk manufacturing of the rifles till the Army places the orders for its procurement” said the official.

The official added that “Board of Officers from the Ministry of Home Affairs had also conducted extensive trials of the assault rifle and termed it a reliable weapon which can be introduced with the paramilitary forces too.”

However, the recent Defence Acquisition Council 2020 meeting led to the approval and subsequent announcement of procuring a second batch of about 72000 assault rifles of the same calibre from American SiG-Sauer at a cost of aprrox.780 crore. OFB sources said the Ishapore factory’s lethal 7.62x51mm automatic rifle, with a firing range of 500m, was assembled and test fired at the factory range with “much satisfactory results”. The rifle can fire 300 rounds at a go and has piccatiny rails for mounting sights and other platforms. It was pointed out that Ishapore factory had also manufactured a 7.62 mm calibre semi automatic rifle for the Army during 1962 war with China.