The Defence Ministry has sent a team of military experts to Australia, the US, South Korea, Israel and United Arab Emirates to look for new assault rifles and battle carbines. Sources said the nine-member delegation of experts will interact with leading manufacturers of assault rifles and close quarter battle carbines which are being procured for the Indian Army. "The empowered committee for procurement of the weapons will hold meetings with leading manufacturers of these weapons and evaluate qualities of their rifles and carbines," said a source. In February, the defence ministry had approved purchase of 7.40 lakh assault rifles to bolster the strength of the armed forces. In June last year, the Army had kick-started the initial process to procure around 44,600 carbines, nearly eight months after a tender for it was retracted. Around half a dozen firms including a few global arms manufacturers had responded to the RFI. In the last few months, the Defence Ministry has fast tracked procurement of rifles, carbines and LMGs to equip the soldiers on the border with modern and more effective equipment. The Indian Army has been pressing for fast-tracking the procurement of various weapons systems considering the evolving security threats including along India's borders with Pakistan and China.