New rifle ready, but Army holds fire

The Ordnance Factory in Tiruchirapalli. File

The Ordnance Factory in Tiruchirapalli. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The force is planning to float a global tender despite Ordnance Board developing gun in record time

The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has developed a new 7.62-mm assault rifle for the Army, which will begin trials of the weapon in June.

But the Army remains unenthused about the gun and is going ahead with a global tender for procuring new rifles.

“The trials of the new 7.62x51mm assault rifle were to happen in May but got delayed. The first trial will now happen in the first half of June at the Rifle Factory, Ishapore. Eight rifles have been prepared for the trials,” a senior OFB official told The Hindu.

Work on the gun began on October 1, 2016 and was completed in a “record six months” as per the requirements of the Army, he said.

Long firing range

New rifle ready, but Army holds fire

The rifle weighs 4.5 kg and is fully automatic. It has two firing modes, single shot and automatic, and has a lethal firing range of 500 metres.

“The function of a self-loading rifle (SLR) has been transferred to the new rifle,” the official said referring to the superior lethal effect of the SLRs used in the past.

The rifle also has a picatinny rail, a standard bracket on the gun, both above and below, where various accessories such as night-vision devices and under-barrel grenade launchers can be mounted. Basic trials were conducted during the development.

The trials this month will be before the Project Management Team (PMT) comprising representatives of the Army’s Infantry Directorate, the Rifle Factory, the Director-General, Quality Assurance, and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

“During the basic trials, the rifle fired 300 rounds non-stop,” the official said and added that two representatives from the Army’s Infantry Directorate were involved in the entire trial process.

Once the rifle clears the PMT trials, it will be put through extensive field trials.

The Army has an initial requirement of 1,85,000 guns and much more later.

The OFB has so far supplied over 10 lakh INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) rifles to the Army so far and the plan is to replace all of them.

The indigenously built 5.56-calibre INSAS rifle was cleared for induction into the Army in 1999 and was fully inducted by 2004.

The Army has been trying to replace the INSAS and had launched an ambitious global tender for interchangeable barrels capable of firing both 5.56-mm and 7.62-mm-calibre bullets.

The tender for assault rifles with interchangeable barrels issued in December 2011 was cancelled in 2015 as none of the companies could meet the service quality specifications.

The Army has now decided to go for 7.62-mm calibre, and fresh General Staff Quality Requirements (GSQR) have just been issued.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:23:06 PM |

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