India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded approval for procurement of additional SIG Sauer assault rifles at a cost of approx. Rs.780 crore (~USD105 million).
The new assault rifles are to equip frontline troops of the Indian Army and the procurement came amid the ongoing tense border standoff with India’s northern neighbor China.
Earlier this year, it was reported that India was seeking to procure 72,000 additional SIG716 assault rifles from American firearms manufacturer, SIG Saur Inc.
In February last year, India had signed an INR 700 crore (around USD 99 million) contract for procurement of 72,400 SIG716G2 Patrol assault rifles from Sig Sauer Inc* under the fast-track procurement (FTP) procedure. A majority of these rifles (66,400) are for the Indian Army wit the remaining divided between the Navy (2,000) and the Air Force (4,000).
The first batch of 10,000 SiG716 assault rifles arrived in India in December last year.
The new SiG716 rifles will partially replace the Indian Army’s INSAS (INdian Small Arms System) assault rifle. The induction of these new assault rifles is a shot in the arm for the Army troops engaged in counter-terrorism operations in the country’s north.
The Indian Army has been, for long, seeking to replace its INSAS rifle, chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO round, with a rifle that fires a larger, more powerful 7.62x51mm round, such as the SIG716.
The major portion of the Army’s INSAS rifle inventory will reportedly be replaced by the Russia-designed AK-203 assault rifles, manufactured in India by Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited. The Indo-Russia Rifles is a joint venture between India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Russia’s Kalashnikov Concern, with Rosoboronexport holding a minority stake. The JV will produce around 750,000 AK-203 rifles, a 7.62×39mm variant from the AK-100 family.
*The New Hampshire-based company was originally formed in 1985 (then called SIGARMS) to import and distribute firearms made by German firearms manufacturer SIG Sauer GmbH into the United States. Since 2000, the company is organizationally separate from SIG Sauer GmbH, and was renamed SIG Sauer Inc. in 2007.