The Indian Ministry of Defence has indicated requirements for multiple equipment, primarily for the Indian Army, over the past few weeks. This includes 4,800 .338 sniper rifles, 29,762 night sights for assault rifles, about 50,000 Hand-Held Radio Sets (HHRS) and 300 High Frequency (HF) manpack software-defined radios (SDR). Further, requirements for digital night vision goggles and helmet-mounted panoramic night vision binoculars have also been indicated. The requirements are to be met by the Indian industry.
Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of 4,800 sniper rifles was accorded along with 7.8 million rounds of .338 Lapua Magnum ammunition. The Request for Information was initially floated in 2016. The rifles, meant to replace 7.62×54mmR SVD-63 Dragunovs, must have an effective range of not less than 1,200m. The bolt action rifles must have a weight of not more than 9kg with bipod, 5-25x telescopic sight and an empty magazine. Overall length including muzzle brake must be less than 1.25m. A Request for Proposals is to be issued by September 2022. Upon award of the contract, the order should be completed in four years. SSS Defence with their 338 Saber and Rifle Factory Ishapore are expected to be the main contenders for this requirement. This will put India’s private sector against the state-owned arsenal.
The 29,762 night optics (image intensifier II) are required for 7.62×51mm SIG Sauer SIG-716i rifles. India has ordered over 72,000 such rifles. The sights must be capable of detecting a single human walking at a minimum distance of 600m and single standing human detection at a minimum range of 500m. The sight must have range markers up to 800m. These night sights are intended to solve inadequacies experienced during night operations.
The 50,000 HHRS are intended to be used for tactical section and platoon level communication in all types of terrain. It should be light and ergonomic. Associated equipment required also includes base stations and repeater stations. Light vehicles and trucks will also be equipped with HHRS. Earlier, the army has issued an expression of interest for procuring 300 HF Manpack SDR sets for beyond line of sight communications. With a ground antenna, it would have a range of over 30km while with a dipole antenna range would be over 300km. Alpha Design Technologies, BEL, DRDO and others have radios which can fulfill these requirements.
Cover Image: SSS Defence 338 SABER sniper rifle (Credit: SSS Defence)
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Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.
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