Government clears purchase of 7.4 lakh assault rifles

New Delhi: The government on Tuesday addressed a long and crying need from the soldier at Ground Zero for an effective mainstay small weapon when the defence ministry’s apex procurement panel, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), approved the buying of a huge small arms arsenal of 7,40,000 assault rifles, 5,719 high-precision sniper rifles and Light Machine Guns (LMGs) for the three wings of the armed forces.

Amid increasing casualties of soldiers falling prey to terror attacks, the proposal acquires top significance even as the low intensity conflict in the border areas and hinterland of Jammu and Kashmir rages.

Tuesday’s meeting, chaired by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, just back from her Jammu visit, where she met injured soldiers and many family members of jawans who had sustained injuries during the latest terror attack in an army camp, cleared capital acquisition proposals valued at Rs 15,935 crore.

While the assault rifles are estimated to cost Rs 12,280 crore, the LMGs will cost about Rs 1,819 crore, while the 5,719 sniper rifles would come for around Rs 982 crore.

The assault rifles will be produced in India under the “Buy and Make (Indian)” category through both state-run Ordnance Factory Board and private sector, an “essential quantity” numbers of LMGs will be put through the “fast track” route “primarily to meet the operational requirement of the troops deployed on the borders”.

The sniper rifles will be bought under the “Buy Global” category, while the ammunition for these weapons will be initially procured and subsequently manufactured in India.

The Defence Acquisi-tion Council also cleared the procurement of Advanced Torpedo Decoy Systems (ATDS) for the Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 850 crore which the ministry said will “enhance the anti-submarine warfare capabilities of Indian Navy”.