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India approves procurement of additional SIG716 rifles

The SIG716 is a gas-cycled, air‐cooled, magazine box-fed weapon of a conventional layout with a maximum hitting range of 800 m. (SIG SAUER)

India's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved the procurement of 70,000 additional SIG Sauer's SIG716 7.62×51 mm rifles worth INR8.4 billion (USD100 million) for the Indian Army, A Bharat Bhushan Babu, principal spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD),told Janes on 14 December.

The MoD ordered the first batch of 72,400 SIG716 rifles worth USD90 million in 2020 using the Fast Track Procurement procedure, which requires equipment deliveries to be completed within 12 months of the contract being signed.

Janes assesses that the additional rifles are also being procured using the Fast Track Procurement procedure to equip front-line infantry troops with new rifles and to replace ageing in-service Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56 mm assault rifles.

To replace INSAS rifles, the Indian Army has also been waiting to induct Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles – manufactured by an Indo-Russian joint venture known as Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) – since March 2023.

In the beginning of 2023 IRRPL envisaged to supply the Indian Army with 600,000 AK-203 rifles in 128 months, with the delivery of the first 70,000 rifles scheduled in 32 months. The joint venture also planned to deliver the first batch of 5,000 rifles in March 2023.

However, the purchase of 70,000 SIG716s indicates that AK-203 rifle production is slower than expected, reportedly because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

According to Janes Weapons: Infantry,the SIG716 is a gas-cycled, air‐cooled, magazine box-fed weapon of a conventional layout.

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