Army hunts for lethal assault rifle, junks DRDO’s Excalibur

excalibur1NEW DELHI: Army has launched a fresh hunt for a new-generation assault rifle all over again. Rejecting the 5.56x45mm calibre Excalibur rifle offered by the DRDO-Ordnance Factory Board combine, the force has now decided to go in for a 7.62x51mm gun with “higher kill probability and stopping power”.

In the race to acquire high-end weapon systems, from submarines and fighters to howitzers and helicopters, basic weaponry and protective gear for ordinary foot-soldiers often do not get the requisite attention and push by the brass.

But the Army says it means business this time, shrugging aside failed attempts to acquire new rifles over the last decade.

The RFI (request for information) for the new 7.62mm assault rifles is going to be issued soon to elicit responses from around the globe. “The GSQRs (general staff qualitative requirements) or technical parameters for the rifles will then be formulated before the actual tender is floated to invite bids,” said a source.

It was in April that the Army commanders’ conference first discussed whether the force required a 7.62mm rifle that “killed” or a 5.56mm rifle that “incapacitated” enemy soldiers, as was then reported by TOI.

“The decision has now been taken to go for 7.62x51mm rifles with a higher kill probability and accuracy at an enhanced effective range of 500-metre,” said the source.

The military wisdom till now was that the 5.56mm rifle was better for conventional war because it generally injured an enemy soldier, tying down at least two of his colleagues to carry him in the battlefield. Conversely, the 7.62mm rifle was better for counter-insurgency since terrorists had to be killed at the first instance, eliminating the risk of “suicide bombing”.

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Soldiers largely use the 7.62mm AK-47 rifles for counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir and the northeast, even though the infantry is saddled with the indigenous glitch-prone 5.56mm INSAS (Indian small arms system) rifles.

The fully-automatic Excalibur, which fires 5.56x45mm ammunition, is a much-improved version of INSAS rifle that entered service in 1994-1995. But the Army now wants 7.62mm rifles for greater lethality.

The Army’s overambitious experiment to induct rifles with interchangeable barrels, with a 5.56x45mm primary barrel for conventional warfare and a 7.62x39mm secondary one for counter-terrorism, miserably flopped last year.

As was first reported by TOI in May last year, the proposed mega project was junked since the rifles on offer by armament firms like Colt (US), Beretta (Italy), Ceska (Czech) and Israel Weapon Industries were not found cost-effective or suitable after extensive trials.

Under the project, 65,000 rifles were to be directly acquired from the selected vendor to equip the 120 infantry battalions deployed on the western and eastern fronts. The OFB was to then subsequently manufacture over 1,13,000 such rifles after getting transfer of technology from the foreign company .

 

 

 

Source:- Times of India

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