The stage is set for the recall of Request for Proposal (RfP) and a new one to be issued for the procurement of 93,895 close-quarter-battle carbines (CQB) for Indian Army, a deal worth $553.33 mn.
Now, the French Company Thales which had responded to the RfP has sent a letter of protest last week to the Ministry of Defence regarding Caracal of the UAE being shortlisted as the lowest bidders for the CQBs. Kanpur-based MKU is bidding with the with French company Thales for the CQBs.
“ It is believed that Caracal of UAE did not submit its response as per the format of the commercial bid and the amount of Rs 70 crore was not reflected in the bid format which is used for determination of L1 vendor,” sources told FE Online on condition of anonymity.
Also, “There are serious doubts about the ability of Caracal to supply 96,000 weapons within a period of 12 months as required under the RfP. As Caracal a new company which started its commercial production in 2014 and has till date sold only a couple of thousands of weapons.”
According to sources, “there is also an issue related to life cycle of the weapon, as Carcal being new, there is not enough data available to establish its reliability and life cycle.”
FE was the first to report that the procurement of 93,895 CQB for the Indian Army had run into rough weather. After stiff evaluation, two companies — Caracal of the UAE and S&T Motiv of South Korea —had been declared non-compliant by a nine-member committee headed by an Army brigadier.
This left Sig Sauer of the US, Kanpur-based MKU with French company Thales in the race. Caracal of the UAE and Reliance Armaments with S&T Motiv of South Korea were competing for this deal.
FE had reported that the embassy of Korea in New Delhi had written to the MoD earlier this month pointing out that S&T Motiv had been declared non-compliant in spite of meeting all the requirements under the request for proposal.
“In case of non-compliance, companies are informed at the pre-trial stage. There were extensive trials in the UAE and South Korea. The two were also called for trials in India for testing with Indian ammunition,” said an officer as quoted earlier by FE.
The South Korean S&T Motiv has been producing small arms for the last four decades and has a complete range of products to meet Indian requirements. Representatives of the company were part of the Korean delegations during the visits of South Korean President Moon Jae-in in July, followed by the visit of the Korean defence minister.
At the time the Korean company had offered transfer of technology for small arms under the ‘Make in India’ initiatives and was the most competitive in terms of pricing, compared to its competitors — Thales of France, Sig Sauer of the US and Caracal of the UAE.
The Indian Army has fast-tracked procurement of small arms to ensure front-line troops are better equipped with effective and modern firearms. The Army, which has been trying to replace age-old ‘INSAS’ rifles because of faults and reliability issues, has not been successful in procuring a replacement either from foreign OEMs or from the Ordnance Factory Board.