Why The Indian Army Loves The Tavor?
It will see the manufacture of a wide range of IWI small arms at a new plant in central India built with the help of IWI. The production of small arms will begin this year.
Tavor is an Israeli bullpup assault rifle chambered for 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition with as elective fire system, selecting between semi-automatic mode and full automatic fire mode.
Built around a long-stroke piston system, the Tavor was designed to maximise reliability, durability, and ease-of-maintenance, particularly under adverse or battlefield conditions.
Due to the dynamic changes in the modern battlefield, the threats of global terrorism and the demands of ever-changing combat situations, there was a need for a new versatile, innovative and technologically advanced weapon.
The TAVOR assault rifle was especially created to answer these varied demands, thus distinguishing itself as the ultimate weapon of the 21st century.
The TAVOR was developed in close cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Tavor is today in service in the IDF infantry troops as well as in the forces of other countries throughout the world. The rifle family has an excellent performance record in the battlefield with its attributes of high precision, reliability and human ergonomics being its leading characteristics.
Licensed manufacture of foreign designs, usually involving Russian weapons, has been going on since the 1960s. But the Indian made items were always seen, by Russian and Indian users, as inferior. What made PLR unique was that it is the first Indian manufacturer of military small arms that is expected to be capable of producing the foreign designs well enough to be exported. This sort of thing has already been demonstrated with non-military products and the Israelis believe it is possible to do it with military items as well. The Indian small arms market alone is worth $5 billion a year and the export market for Israeli quality weapons is potentially even larger. Initially PLR will manufacture the Israeli Tavor assault rifle as well as sniper rifles and light machine-guns and is already considered a front runner for several major Indian Army contracts.
Israel has been doing joint ventures with India for some time and always had problems with their Indian partners not being able to match Israeli standards. The main reason for this was that India long insisted the joint ventures be with state owned weapons manufacturers and developers. Since the late 1990s India has been forced to admit that Indian private manufacturers could match quality standards the state owned firms never seemed capable to achieving. Thus JLR became the first time India allowed a foreign firm to jointly manufacture foreign weapons in India that met the standards Indian troops were demanding (and rarely got from locally made stuff.) At the same time India is allowing privately owned firms to bid on more military contracts and is finding that the resulting products are usually superior in terms of quality, cost and meeting delivery schedules.
The creation of JLR also marked the government admitting that the state owned and run defense industries were unlikely to every improve enough to compete with privately owned firms, foreign or India. The formation of PLR was not unexpected because Indian troops have long pointed out, often to the media and in detail, the superiority of foreign weapons, particular Israeli models that have been purchased in small quantities, usually for the elite troops.
In contrast Indian government agencies began, in the late 1980s developing a family of 5.56mm infantry weapons (rifle, light machine-gun and carbine). Called the INSAS, the state owned factories were unable to produce the quantities required (and agreed to). Worse, the rifles proved fragile and unreliable. The design was poorly thought out and it is believed corruption played a part because the INSAS had more parts than it needed and cost over twice as much to produce as the AK-47.
The original plan was to equip all troops with INSAS weapons by 1998. Never happened, although troops began to receive the rifle in 1998. By 2000 half the required weapons ordered were still not manufactured. Moreover in 1999 the INSAS weapons got their first real combat workout in the Kargil campaign against Pakistan. While not a complete failure, the nasty weather that characterized that battle zone high in the frigid mountains saw many failures as metal parts sometimes cracked from the extreme cold. Troops complained that they were at a disadvantage because their Pakistani foes could fire on full automatic with their AK-47s while the INSAS rifles had only three bullet burst mode (which, fortunately, sometimes failed and fired more than three bullets for each trigger pull.) What was most irksome about this was that the INSAS rifles were the same weight, size and shape as the AK-47 but cost about $300 each, while AK-47s could be had for less than half that. The INSAS looked like the AK-47 because its design was based on that weapon.The Indians persevered, tweaking the design and improving the manufacturing process. By 2015, after nearly two decades the INSAS weapons were gaining acceptance. Nearly 400,000 had been delivered by then.
When the Indian Army Special Forces went inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to carry out the famous surgical strikes last September, they used the deadly made-in-Israel Tavor-21 and Galil assault rifles to eliminate the terrorists and Pakistan Army troops supporting them.
However, next time if they carry out similar operations, they may be equipped with the same weapons which could be made in India as Indian firm Punj Llyod and Israeli Weapons Industry have signed a joint venture to produce these rifles under a new joint venture facility at Malanpur near here.
Meanwhile, Israel continues to push Tavor as an export item and India was the largest potential market. The Tavor design was based on years of feedback from troops, so if corruption (bribes for purchasing officials) doesn’t become a major factor, the Israeli weapon should show up with a lot of foreign armies in the next decade. Indian infantry and special operations troops were fed up with Indian made small arms and PLR was seen as a solution.