The defence ministry has signed a major contract for procuring more than 16,000 light machine guns from an Israeli firm for frontline troops.
The ministry on Thursday (19th March) said that it has signed a Rs 880 crore contract for the light machine guns with Israel Weapons Industries. “The Indian Armed Forces’ long-standing requirement of a modern state-of-the-art Light Machine Gun (LMG) has finally fructified. The Acquisition Wing of Ministry of Defence has signed the capital acquisition contract with Israel Weapons Industries for procurement of 16,479 LMGs at a cost of Rs 880 crore with the approval of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh,” it said.
The contracted Negev 7.62X51 mm LMG is a combat proven weapon and currently used by several countries around the globe. The LMG, is believed, will enhance the lethality and range of a soldier in comparison with presently used weapon, the INSAS LMG that has a calibre of 5.56x45mm. “The provisioning of this operationally urgent and very critically needed weapon will boost the confidence of the frontline troops and provide much needed combat power to the armed forces,” the ministry said.
These guns are being procured under the Fast Track Procedure (FTP). The FTP is to ensure expeditious procurement for urgent operational requirements of the regular and special forces. It is applied for cases where there has been an unforeseen delay, which is adversely affecting the capacity of the forces.
The Defence Acquisition Council had cleared the procurement of these LMGs for the army, air force and navy in February 2018. An army led team had visited Bulgaria to meet representatives of Arsenal, a gun and ammunition manufacturer of that country, besides Israel Weapons Industries in Israel and S&T Motiv in South Korea for procuring the LMGs in May last year. These manufacturers had responded with their bids to the army’s request for procuring the LMGs.
The FTP route was also taken for the procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines for frontline troops. In July 2018, an army led team visited Israel (IWI), South Korea (S&T Motiv), US (Sig Sauer), Australia (Thales) and UAE (Caracal). Sig Sauer won the contract for the assault rifles.