A number of Indian vendors have represented to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) seeking the extension of bid submission date for the Light Machine Gun (LMG) programme under the `Make in India’ initiative. These 7.62×51 mm LMGs are going to help in bolstering the firepower of infantry soldiers who are deployed along borders with China and Pakistan.
This programme is one of the largest as it involves the production of around 41,000 LMGs locally with the absorption of all critical technologies as this is being attempted for the first time. According to the MoD the total cost for procurement of 41,000 LMGs is expected to be around Rs 3,000 crore.
“Due to global pandemic of COVID-19 everything had been put on hold including RfPs for various programmes. At a meeting in the MoD on Friday, two independent bids for Night Vision Devices got an extension until July end and a notable exception was the LMG programme,’’ a highly placed source told Financial Express Online.
“ The Indian vendors are understandably keen to ensure that they have the necessary contractual agreements in place with the technology partners that will allow them to meet the stringent localization requirement.”
“The RfP mandates absorption of surface treatment and heat treatment technology as also barrel manufacturing and bore plating. And with international business under suspension for the last four months due to the global pandemic initially in Europe followed by India, discussions between some of the Indian vendors shortlisted for the programme and their foreign partners are still inconclusive,” the source added.
Not getting the extension for the bid submission deadline beyond June 15th has come as a shock to the Indian players who had made the representation. Especially as it comes close on the heels of the government notification of four months grace period for all the Indian vendors, who are currently supplying under various contracts to the MoD.
Industry sources have indicated that “The additional time of 8-10 weeks would have ensured greater participation resulting in more options for the MoD and possibly better price.”
Key competitors for this programme include Adani Group, Bharat Forge, Megha Engineering and others.
What is the Indian Army looking for?
As per the tender these LMGs are expected to have telescopic sight with 4 x magnification and should have the capability to facilitate engagement of human target at 1000m. They are for equipping the infantry battalions.
In almost two decades, the basic weapon of the Infantry units of the Indian Army is getting new LMGs.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) put its stamp of approval for 41,000 LMGs in 2018.