New assault rifle gears up for trials

Facing phase-out: A file photo of INSAS rifles at the ITBP training centre in Panchkula.   | Photo Credit: ;AKHILESH KUMAR -

The trials of an assault rifle being developed by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) have made progress after initial bottlenecks. The sixth round was completed in November by the Project Management Team (PMT) and the OFB is gearing up for consistency trials later this year.

“We are currently assembling 50 rifles from which some of them will be picked up randomly and checked for consistency. This is likely in the first week of May. After that the PMT would decide on the way forward,” a senior OFB official said.

The new 7.62-mm rifle is fully automatic and weighs 4.5 kg. The development of the gun began on October 1, 2016 and some inconsistencies were noticed during the basic trials.

“There was problem with consistency in the firing. The Army wanted 99% consistency and we have now achieved 98%,” he said.

One Army officer said the rifles were being made in small batches and so they “asked the OFB to make at least 50 rifles to check for consistency”.

Tough specifications

The Army has been trying to replace the in-service INSAS rifle with a modern one, but the tender was withdrawn due to overambitious service quality specifications of having interchangeable barrels capable of firing both 5.56-mm and 7.62-mm calibre bullets. The Army has subsequently decided to go for 7.62-mm calibre and issued fresh General Staff Quality Requirements (GSQR).

To meet the immediate requirement and the cost factor, the Army has decided to go for two different rifles — import a high-tech rifle in small numbers for the frontline infantry soldiers and procure the indigenous rifle in large numbers to meet the balance requirement.

“Procurement of assault rifles got delayed because of the to change in the GSQR. We are now going for procurement of an assault rifle with 500 metre range with night vision capability,” Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said on Friday.

He said the remaining requirement would be through indigenous solutions which would be split between the OFB and the private industry to create competition and get a better product. “The infantry soldier deployed in the front will get the high-tech assault rifle. We have identified the gun and trials are on. We will get it very soon preferably through the government to government route,” Gen. Rawat said.

The Project Management Team, which oversees the development comprises representatives from the Army’s Infantry Directorate, the Ishapore Rifle Factory, the Director-General, Quality Assurance, and the Defence Research and Development Organisation. The initial requirement for 1,85,000 rifles is likely to go up.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 5:33:01 AM |

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