Indian Army by later this month will be getting 5,719 sniper rifles from global vendors to replace Soviet-era Dragonov SVD rifles that were procured in the 1990s.
Sources told the Financial Express Online that, “The Indian Army is getting sniper rifles from different vendors including Messers Beretta .338 Lapua Magmum Scorpio TGT of Italy and .50 Calibre Sniper Rifle M95 MS Berrett from the US. They are coming under the Buy Global category. The ammunition for these will be initially procured from abroad; subsequently it will be manufactured in India.”
The Indian Army is using the Russian Dragunov sniper rifle, which uses 7.62×54-MMR cartridge acquired from Russia in early 1990s. The Army had fast tracked the process as it wants to modernise its forces and to replace the Soviet era rifles.
The Dragnov sniper rifles (800 meter range) are not equipped with modern magnification and sight systems as well as bipod systems, and the ammunition is very expensive.
Last December Ministry of Defence (MoD) had invited responses from global manufacturers to its request for proposals (RFP) for 5,719 8.6 mm sniper rifles and 10.2 million rounds of ammunition for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force in a deal worth $ 150 million.
There will be licensed manufacture of five million rounds of .338 Lapua Magnum ammunition under a transfer of technology to India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board and private-sector manufacturers.
According to officials, “in an effort to equip the soldiers on the border with modern and more effective equipment, procurement of three main personal weapons, i.e., Rifles, Carbines and Light Machine Guns have been fast tracked.”
Addressing the media on the eve of the Indian Army Day, Gen Rawat had said that, “The Northern Command of the Indian Army taking care of the borders with Pakistan and some parts of Line of Actual Control is soon going to be equipped with the new sniper rifles from this month. On January 20th the new snipers will come for the Northern Command.”
“We are getting one of the best sniper rifles,” said the chief.
The Army which is deployed on the borders and used for internal security duties has been waiting for modern equipment and weapons and some of the programmes have been fast tracked to ensure that the soldiers are well equipped to face various challenges.
Indian Armed Forces have most of its sniping materials exported from other countries like Germany, the United States, and Russia.