(This News Article Is Originally Posted on The Print by Snehesh Alex Philip)
In a boost to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, India-made Israeli Tavor X 95 assault rifles are now being supplied to central forces and various state police teams, ThePrint has learnt.
Until now, special forces and others using these assault rifles used to import them from the Israel Weapons Industry (IWI), a former Israeli government firm that was privatised in 2005.
The Indian Army has also issued a fresh Request for Information (RFI) to fast-track procurement (FTP) of 93,895 carbines, after the last process, under which UAE firm Caracal was shortlisted, was scrapped.
The Army has issued RFI to all major foreign small arms manufacturers, including Caracal, Colt, SiG Sauer, Beretta and Kalashnikov. But the significant change in FTP this time is that the RFI has also been sent to multiple Indian firms like the Ordinance Factory Board, Reliance Defence, SSS Defence, Bharat Forge of the Kalyani Group and the Adani-PLR Systems, besides others.
“Under the FTP process, it is usually ‘Buy Global’ category, as the forces buy a global product off the shelf which is then supplied to, in a specific short period. But this time, Indian firms will be participating in the FTP process for carbines,” said a source in the defence and security establishment.
The front runner is likely to be the Adani-PLR Systems, which is fielding the Israeli Galil Ace 21 carbine that is now manufactured in India.
The Ace 21 was chosen by the Army in an earlier attempt (2013-14) to buy carbines, but the deal could not go through because of single vendor situation, a development which is not allowed under the Indian defence procurement rules.
The IWI, however, did not take part in the FTP (2017) because it was eyeing a deal for assault rifles (won by an American firm) and the Light Machine Guns (LMGs) — that it had won and is in the process of delivering to the Army.
Sources said that a large tender for over 3 lakh carbines is also in the process and could be issued later this year. This would be a ‘Make in India’ initiative.
ThePrint, in September last year, had reported that the Caracal deal was being scrapped. By December, it was reported that the UAE firm had offered to manufacture them in India.
Made in Indian Tavors
The Adani-PLR Systems also manufactures the 5.56×45 mm chambered Tavor X 95 which are used by the special forces and others. These rifles come with ‘Made in India’ markings and were showcased during the recently-held Aero India 2021.
Sources said that the CISF has procured these ‘Made in India’ rifles, along with other state police forces. They also said that Adani-PLR Systems is in the process of setting up India’s first private barrel manufacturing plant in Gwalior. With this, the indigenous manufacture of rifles will go up to about 75 per cent.
The Gwalior facility would be functional by the end of this year and it is expected that other Indian private small arms players will be using it, rather than importing barrels from outside the country.