MoD to equip Army in J&K with new AKs, LMGs, carbines

Troops to get boost against Pak on LoC

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Mar 25: The Ministry of Defence headed by Nirmala Sitharaman has decided to equip the troops deployed along Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China with new and latest technology equipped AK rifles, Light Machine Guns (LMGs), battle carbines and other such new  weapons, which will help the troops deployed along Pakistan borders including Jammu and Kashmir to face the threat of infiltration attempts by the militants more effectively and also counter the ceasefire violations by the Pakistan army.
The weapons would cost Rs 5366 crore, official sources told the Excelsior.
“The weapons will be acquired by the Defence Ministry under the Fast Track Procedure (FTP) and delivered to the Army soldiers expeditiously to meet their requirements as they were in need of latest and modernized weaponry along LoC with Pakistan especially in Jammu and Kashmir, where there was no let up in ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops and abetment of infiltration attempts by the militants,” sources said.
They added that the Defence Ministry has initiated the exercise for procurement of the weapons including 72,400 assault rifles, 93,895 battle carbines and 16,479 Light Machine Guns, which will together cost an estimated Rs 5,366 crore.
The weapons will be acquired through selected foreign armament companies, sources said.
Under the Defence Procurement Procedure’s strict timelines for the Fast Track Procurement, which caters for urgent operational requirements, the RFP has to be issued within 10 days of a case being cleared by the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) to ensure the actual contract after technical and commercial evaluation is inked within a year.
“Delivery of the weapons could take place between three to 12 months. Entire exercise for acquiring the weapons was likely to be over by the early next year,” sources said, adding that soon after taking delivery of the weapons, the Defence Ministry would ask the Army Headquarters to disburse them as per requirement.
Majority chunk of the weapons could be provided to the Army personnel deployed along Line of Control with Pakistan, which generally remains tense due to ceasefire violations by Pakistan army and facilitation of infiltration attempts by the militants, a number of whom were camping at the launch pads waiting for an opportunity to sneak into this side.
The Defence Ministry would spend Rs 1,798 crore on assault rifles and Rs 1,749 crore on battle carbines while the Light Machine Guns would cost Rs 1,819 crore, sources pointed out.
Sources pointed out that the process to procure these weapons had first been initiated between 2005 to 2009 when the UPA-I and II was in power.
The Army had first asked for new assault rifles and battle carbines for its 382 infantry battalions (each with 850 soldiers each) way back in 2005, while the case for the light machine guns was initiated in 2009.
“But the long-drawn procurement projects were repeatedly scrapped due to graft allegations or unrealistic technical parameters as well as the lack of indigenous options for well over a decade,” sources said.
Sources said the Fast Track Procurement route is only for limited number of weapons due to extreme operational necessity. For instance, they said, the overall requirement of the Army is for 8.16 lakh new 7.62x51mm caliber assault rifles to replace the existing 5.56mm Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles. Similarly, the numbers are 4.58 lakh for close-quarter battle carbines (5.56 x 45mm) and 43,544 for light machine guns (7.62x51mm).
While the bulk of the weapons are meant for the infantry, some have been earmarked for the Navy and IAF also.
Sources asserted that providing these weapons to the Defence forces has become a necessity as the troops had been facing tough condition on the LoC with Pakistan with almost regular shelling and firing for the past over one year now besides infiltration attempts by the militants and stepped-up anti-militancy operations in the Kashmir valley, where 200 militants were killed last year while a number of others including some top commanders have been eliminated this year.
According to sources, the new and sophisticated assault rifles, battle carbines and other weaponry would further boost strength of the Army not only on the LoC but also in the hinterland, where they had to face the Pakistan-sponsored militants.


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