Five rifle manufacturers remain in the running to supply the Indian Army with a new design to replace the INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) used by warfighters since 1998.
India's original RFP (Request for Proposals) went out to 34 manufacturers - those still in the frame now include Sig-Sauer, Ceska and Beretta and Colt.
The Indian Small Arms System rifle is the Indian Army's standard infantry weapon. Inspired by the Kalashnikov AK-47, it's got a 650 rounds per minute rate-of-fire and it can be loaded with 30mm and 45mm cartridges. These pass down the muzzle at a speed of 900 metres a second and can hit targets located up to 450 metres away.
INSAS Assault Rifle
The INSAS assault rifle made its operational debut in 1999, when Indian and Pakistani forces clashed in the Kashmir region.
Here, reliability issues were encountered when it emerged that, in cold weather, the rifle tended to stick, cracks would develop in the magazines and the firing patterns wouldn't match those selected by users. India's Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE), which makes the INSAS rifle, has since confirmed that these issues have been resolved.
The Indian Armed Forces is this multi-calibre rifle's main user but it also equips Omani, Nepalese and Bhutanese troops.
INSAS Rifle Replacement
The Indian Army INSAS rifle replacement contract terms call for no less than 60,000 to be supplied. Versatility is the key requirement, with a two barrel layout sought to maximise deployability in all relevant situations. Also required is a maximum weight of 3.6 kilograms, integrated grenade launchers and the ability to be loaded with locally-produced ammunition.
The Armament Research & Development Establishment was formed in 1958 and works to conceive and develop weapons for Indian Armed Forces' use. Besides the INSAS rifle, its other products include the ARDE 40mm grenade launcher, the Arjun MBT tank gun and various types of bombs.
Image copyright US Army - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons