The Army has issued two Request For Information (RFI) for the procurement of 4.25 lakh close-quarter battle (CQB) carbines and 47,627 bullet-proof jackets (BPJ). The RFIs were uploaded on the Army website on September 22 and the due date to submit responses is October 21, 2022.
“After signing of the contract, the quantity required should be delivered commencing earliest but not later than eight months and completing earliest but not later than 60 months. The vendors should confirm if they can deliver the requisite quantity of CQB carbine within the stipulated timeframe,” the RFI for CQBs said.
The tentative timeline of issue of Request For Proposal (RFP) is November 2022, both the RFIs said.
On the operational characteristics of the carbine, the RFI said it should fire the in-Service Indian 5.56 x 45mm ammunition and have an effective range of not less than 200 metres. Weight of the carbine without magazine and accessories should not exceed 3 Kgs + 10% and it should have a minimum service life of 15 years or 15,000 rounds whichever is earlier, the RFI stated.
“After signing of the contract, the quantity required should be delivered commencing earliest but not later than six months and completing earliest but not later than 24 months,” the RFI for BPJs said.
Under a ₹700-crore deal in February 2019 with Sig Sauer of the U.S., the Defence Ministry procured 72,400 SIG-716 assault rifles through fast track procurement (FTP), most of which were for the Army and have been provided to frontline troops involved in counter-insurgency operations. The remaining demand of over 7 lakh rifles was to be met through the licence manufacture of Russian AK-203 rifles in India through a joint venture with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). However, the final deal has been stuck over the issue of pricing. Similarly, a case for over 90,000 close quarter carbines (CQB) again through the FTP route has been stuck for a while and was eventually cancelled. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) granted fresh approval for the carbine procurement recently. The Army has, for sometime, been attempting to replace the indigenous INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) rifles in use with a modern rifle.
In the last few years, several Indian companies have invested in the small arms segment given the large requirement and efforts by the government to open up ammunition to the private sector, and have started production as well.