India has made a significant addition to the Indian Army’s firepower with urgent procurement and fast-tracking crucial military deals, one of which was the purchase of 72,400 Sig Sauer SIG716 Assault/Battle Rifle.
The deal for procuring 72,400 SIG716 rifles was finalized in February 2019 by the Ministry of Defense under the Fast Track Procurement (FTP) procedure and cost $99 million US Dollars. The deal was made for the SIG716 Patrol G2 version of the rifle, which has a more powerful 7.62x51mm caliber configuration and is suitable for both battle and counter-insurgency scenarios.
10,000 rifles were already delivered in December 2019, and the remaining rifles will be delivered by the end of 2020.
The 72,400 rifles will be distributed among 3 India’s three military branches. The Indian Army will receive 66,400 rifles, the Indian Navy will receive 2,000 rifles, and the remaining 4,000 will go to the Indian Air Force.
Indian Army will replace their decades-old domestically-made INSAS 5.56x45mm caliber Battle Rifle built by the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). The order for 72,400 assault rifles from Sig Sauer Inc. was the single largest contract for assault rifles since 1998 when the INSAS entered service.
The Indian Army has a massive demand for rifles for several years as the two-decade-old INSAS rifle has been a complete liability to forces in operation. The Indian Army has repeated its demand to replace this rifle with the newly imported one.
India intends to slowly replace the INSAS rifle and scale up to 150,000 SIG716 rifles in service. The rifles are expected to boost counterinsurgency, forward border operations, and anti-terrorism missions by active forces around hostile enemy regions, such as the terrorist-laden Kashmir Valley, and on Line of Actual Control (LAC) bordering China.
The wider need for rifles in India’s infantry forces for service and petrol duties will be met with AK-203 rifles, which will be built by OFB facility in Amethi. India plans to domestically produce 750,000 AK-203 rifles under the OFB-Kalashnikov joint venture (JV) with the target of producing 75,000 rifles annually with production to run for 10 years.
Besides the assault rifles, the Ministry of Defence has also placed an order for 16,000 light machine guns.