New Delhi: A plan to procure some much-needed fire-power for the armed forces, expected to cost Rs 15,935 crore, was cleared by a top government committee, chaired by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, today. The list includes light machine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles, the government said.
A chunk of the weapons, including an undisclosed number of light machine guns and 7.4 lakh assault rifles will be manufactured in India but follow foreign designs. There will also be 5,719 sniper rifles, meant for the army, which will be direct imports, the government said following a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council - the government's highest decision-making body on procurement. The ammunition will be initially procured and subsequently manufactured in India.
The three services will receive an undisclosed number of light machine guns at a cost of 1,819 crores. The 7.4 lakh assault rifles, which will go to the army, will cost Rs 12,280 crore, the government said.
The armed forces had flagged the need for new guns 11 years ago. Soldiers have been using AK-47 and indigenous INSAS or Indian Small Arms System rifles since 1988 and there were plans to arm them with deadlier higher-caliber assault rifles, especially in border areas and during counter-insurgency operations.
Today, the government said the Council had "fast tracked" the procurement of the three main personal weapons -- rifles, carbines and Light Machine Guns -- "to equip the soldiers on the border with modern and more effective equipment".
For the Navy, the Council has approved the procurement of Advanced Torpedo Decoy Systems, which helps detect an incoming torpedo and deploy countermeasures.
"The 'Mareech' system has been developed indigenously by Defence Research and Development Organisation and has successfully completed extensive trial evaluations," the statement said. These will be produced by the Bengaluru-based Bharat Electronics Limited at an estimated cost of Rs 850 crore.