Around 1,500 anti-materiel lightweight rifles which are capable of damaging targets like battle tanks and low-flying helicopters and bunkers are going to be acquired soon. Previously the process has been delayed for several times, but finally, Army has started the operation again.
The rifles are being procured to strengthen the army's overall infantry and will particularly help it in operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
A Request for Information (RFI) for purchasing the rifles has been issued today according to which the weapons should have a range of at least 1.8 kilometres with a calibre of 12.7 mm/0.50.
At present, the army is using South African weapons which are not very light and that is why, it was decided to procure the lightweight rifles whose weight will not be more than 15 kg each.
As per the RFI, the ammunition which should be available for the riffles include armour piercing incendiary and tracer, saboted light armour penetrator, armour piercing explosive incendiary and high explosive armour piercing incendiary.
The interested manufactures have been asked to respond to the RFI by May 15.
The procurement of the anti-materiel rifles has been long overdue after the government had scrapped a deal for it in 2005.
South African firm Denel was banned by the UPA government in 2005 after allegations that it had paid kickbacks to secure a deal with the Indian Army in 2002 to sell 1,000 NTW-20 anti-materiel rifles, along with 3,98,000 rounds of ammunition.
Under the deal, 700 rifles were to be purchased directly and the remaining 300 licence-produced in one of the factories of Indias state-owned Ordnance Factory Board.
Only 400 rifles had been inducted into the army and the remainder put on hold after the 2005 blacklisting.
An anti-materiel rifle (AMR) is a rifle that is designed for use against military equipment (materiel) than against enemy troops.
As per the RFI, in case of foreign vendors, the army asked them to explain whether they will be ready to offer transfer of technology (ToT) to the Indian industry for licenced manufacturing of the weapons. They have also been asked to whether ToT will be offered for sub-systems.
The manufacturers have also been asked to give details about cost of annual maintenance, product support package and training of the crew.
State-run Ordnance Factory, in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), had developed an anti-materiel rifle called Vidhwansak in 2007. The rifle was offered to the Indian Army but it chose not to induct it due weight issues. PTI MPB SMN