Wait for sniper rifles gets longer; MoD retracts the RFP issued last year

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Published: July 12, 2019 12:29:25 PM

Highly placed sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online that “the RFP for the sniper rifles and 10.2 million rounds of ammunition was retracted late June as the vendors were not keen to transfer technology for ammunition.”

sniper rifles, ministry of defence, indian army, Fast Track Procedure, Russian Rosoboronexport, Defence Acquisition Council, Line of controlThe RFP in September 2018 was the third time the Ministry of Defence issued RFP for the sniper rifles. (Representational image)

For the third time the request for Proposals (RFP) for the 5,719 8.6 mm sniper rifles for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been retracted by the Service Headquarters. The procurement of these sniper rifles is part of the modernization plan of the service Headquarters and they have been placed on the Fast Track Procedure (FTP).

Highly placed sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online that “the RFP for the sniper rifles and 10.2 million rounds of ammunition was retracted late June as the vendors were not keen to transfer technology for ammunition.”

Also read: Make in India: Now private companies can test their equipment at the Ordnance Factories

There were four bidders who had responded to the RFP issued in 2018 including Russian Rosoboronexport and US based Barrett and MSA Global. The RFP in September 2018 was the third time the Ministry of Defence issued RFP for the sniper rifles.

“The RFP issued were in 2009-10 under the Fast Track Procedure had to be retracted because of the yardsticks adopted for the trials of two vendors who were down selected. This was followed by another RFP in 2012-13. This too was retracted by the service Headquarters due to some confusion in the formulation of the General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs),” explained a senior army officer.

“The third time retraction is due to issues related to the supply and transfer of technology for .338 Lapua Magnum ammunition rounds. According to the RFP, the down selected vendor had to share Transfer of Technology for around five million rounds of ammunition. And, none of the vendors were keen to share their technology for such a small number,” the officer added and pointed out that the balance of five million was to be bought off the shelf.

In 2018, approval was given by the Defence Acquisition Council headed by the then defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a cost of Rs 982 crore under the `Buy Global’ category. As has been reported by Financial Express Online earlier there was a specification that the ammunition will be bought off the shelf and will be later licensed produced in India under the Make in India initiative. The company which had bid for the sniper rifles were expected to transfer of technology to state-owned Ordnance Factory Board and private-sector manufacturers.

These 8.6mm sniper rifles are required urgently by the Indian Army to deal with the increased threat of sniper attacks g to procure sniper rifles amid an increased threat of sniper attacks along the Line of Control, and also to ensure a tactical advantage over enemies at a distance. These have the capability of being operated in extreme terrains including high altitude, desert, and can be used in jungle warfare. While the troops are already equipped with sniper rifles along the border, the procurement of 5,719 is for the rest.

In the interim, a small number of two new advanced sniper rifles — Barrett M95 .50 BMG and Beretta Scorpio TGT ‘Victrix’, with .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges had to be purchased on an urgent basis by the Northern Army Commander through his special financial powers.

The Indian Army is keen to buy these sniper rifles from the global vendors to vendors to replace the existing Soviet-era Dragunov SVD rifles which are in use and were procured in the mid-1990s and uses 7.62×54-MMR cartridge. The Dragunov sniper rifle with a range of 800 meters is not equipped with modern magnification and sight systems as well as bipod systems. Also the ammunition for these is very expensive.

Most of the sniping materials for the armed forces come from countries including Germany, the United States, and Russia.

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