Procurement of 93,895 close-quarter-battle (CQB) carbines for the Indian Army in a deal worth $553.33 million has run into rough weather. After staff evaluation, two companies — Caracal of the UAE and S&T Motiv of South Korea —have been declared non-complaint by a nine-member committee headed by an Army brigadier.
Sig Sauer of the US, Kanpur-based MKU with French company Thales, Caracal of the UAE and Reliance Armaments with S&T Motiv of South Korea were competing for this deal.
Highly-placed sources told FE that the embassy of Korea in New Delhi has written to the ministry of defence pointing out that S&T Motiv had been declared non-compliant in spite of meeting all the requirements under the request for proposal.
A senior officer told FE, “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.”
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.
Sources told FE that the Korean side had offered transfer of technology for small arms under the ‘Make in India’ initiatives. The Korean company was reportedly the most competitive in terms of pricing, compared to the three competitors — Thales of France, Sig Sauer of the US and Caracal of the UAE.
The empowered committee had visited all these companies for evaluation of carbines and conducted both physical and firing evaluation to verify lethality, reliability and accuracy.
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 August.
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.
“During the visit to various OEM locations, the 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 have been agreed to by all vendors,” a source said.