Three Indian companies have been shortlisted by the government for the procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 CQB carbines for the Indian Army, and now await the final bidding. These companies had responded to the request for proposal (RfP) issued earlier this year for \u2018in service\u2019 rifles, carbines and light machine guns and joined hands with foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) participating in the programme for manufacturing, integration and providing service support for these small arms within the country. Sources told FE that the ministry of defence (MoD) has received compliant bids from three companies for assault rifles and four companies for CQB carbines. However, only one company M\/s IWI, Israel, had bid for light machine guns and for this, the RfP is expected to be reissued shortly. \u201cThe RFPs were given to 12 companies out of which after extensive trials, only three companies with the OEMs: Punj Lloyd working with IWI, Israel; Kanpur-based MKU with Thales, Australia, and Caracal of UAE; and Reliance Armaments with S&T Motiv of South Korea have been shortlisted,\u201d one of the sources said. A nine-member empowered committee led by an Indian Army Brigadier had visited all these companies located in Australia, South Korea, the US, Israel and the UAE for the evaluation of carbines and assault rifles and had conducted both physical and firing evaluation to verify the lethality, reliability and accuracy of carbines and assault rifles. After the successful evaluation of the products at OEM locations, a compatibility test of firing India-manufactured ammunition (OFB-manufactured) was conducted in India in the first week of this month. According to sources, \u201cthe empowered committee is expected to give its final report by the end of this month and the commercial bids are likely to be opened early October\u201d. The Indian Army has fast-tracked the procurement of small arms to ensure that front-line troops are better equipped with more effective and modern firearm. The Army, which has been trying to replace the age-old \u2018INSAS\u2019 rifles as these rifles are prone to faults and have reliability issues, has not been successful in procuring a replacement either from foreign OEMs or from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). \u201cDuring the visit to various OEM locations, the empowered committee was satisfied with the quality of weapons and their performance during trial evaluations as none of the weapons had any issues in meeting the stringent qualification criteria laid down. Certain observations to make the weapons more adaptable with Indian user have been made and the same has been agreed to by all vendors,\u201d a source said.