The Great Indian CARACAL Deal
IDEX 2023 of UAE, one of the largest tri-service defense exhibitions in the world, witnessed the first ever Transfer of Technology (TOT) in defense-articles from the UAE to India, a small arms company, CARACAL, signed an agreement with an Indian firm, ICOMM, a group company of Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd (MEIL), to produce the former’s entire small-arms product line under the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives. According to this deal, ICOMM will locally manufacture the complete line of CARACAL’s small arms for the Indian market. The Chief of ICOMM, Sumant Paturu, not only lauded the commitment of CARACAL to make the India’s private military sector self-sufficient but also mentioned the goodness of India’s initiatives into indigenization of weapons manufacturing. On the other hand, Hamad Al Ameri, the CEO of CARACAL, hailed India’s sovereign defence ambitions while looking forward to this partnership and providing end-to-end solutions to engineering and defence.
CARACAL International LLC is a renowned small arms company based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) which produces various pistols, assault rifles, and sniper rifles for the civilian market, law enforcement, and military operations. ICOMM is one of the largest companies manufacturing missiles and subsystems, communications and EW systems, electro-optics, radars, loitering munitions, drone systems, etc. This collaboration marks the entry of the Megha Group into small arms manufacturing after its foray into defense equipment since 2020, when they got the permission to make weapons and equipment for the defence sector under Defence Procurement Policy 2020. The full range of CARACAL weaponry will be produced in the 110-acre design, development, and manufacturing facility at Nagaram, Hyderabad.
Now, Let’s See The Weapons Line CARACAL Has In Store For Us.
CARACAL Inventory :
- CARACAL EF Pistol – It is an 18 rounds-carrying 9mm calibre pistol with threaded barrel for suppressor attachments and also permits red dot sights.
- CARACAL F Gen II – It is a 2021-launched 18 rounds-carrying 9mm calibre semi-auto pistol with interchangeable sights system, an integrated Picatinny rail and evidently a pistol with much more improved performance.
- CARACAL CMP9 SMG – The CMP9 submachine gun is 9x19mm chambered sub-machine gun that features a blow-back system, good weight distribution throughout the barrel, ambidextrous charging handle and AR-style firing controls. It has 5.5”, 6” and 9” barrel iterations among which the 6” barrel version features a 6” integrated suppressor. All of them have the 30-round magazines in semi-auto and automatic firing controls.
- CARACAL 814 – It is a centre-fire, direct gas-impingement operated assault rifle chambered in NATO 5.56×45 mm ranging from 11.5” to 16” barrels. All of the versions feature mil-spec trigger system and 30-round magazines with semi-auto and automatic firing controls.
- CARACAL 816 – Chambered in 5.56×45 mm NATO cartridge, this centre-fire assault rifle runs on a short-stroke gas-operated piston system. With full ambidextrous configurations, this rifle has 7.5” PDW to 16” barrel lengths and is specifically meant for coordinated law enforcement / military applications.
- CARACAL 817 – This is a short-stroke gas-operated piston system-run assault rifle which comes chambered in 7.62×51 NATO rounds. They have fully ambidextrous configuration with 12.5” to 16” barrel lengths, mil-spec trigger system and a maximum of 20-round capacity.
- CARACAL 817 DMR – This is high-precision, semi-automatic, gas-operated system, designated marksman rifle chambered in 7.62×51 mm rounds, available only in 10/20 round magazines and semi-automatic controls.
- CARACAL CSR 308 – It is a high-precision bolt-action sniper rifle chambered in .308 Winchester Magnum what Caracal claims to be lightest in its class. Without magazine, bipod and optics, it weighs 5.1 kg. It features full ambidextrous controls, a 24” barrel, a detachable box magazine and can be suppressor mounted.
- CARACAL CSR 338 – It is a high-performance, manual bolt-action sniper rifle chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge, and is again claimed to be the lightest in it class, weighing only 6.35 kg without the magazine, bipod and optics. It can be also suppressor mounted and features a full polymer, black body with a 10-round detachable box magazine, full ambidextrous controls and a 27” barrel.
- CARACAL CSA 338 – It is a high performance and precision, semi-automatic sniper rifle chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. Being a semi auto platform, it can provide throughout cover to the ground forces with fast, follow up shots where mission success is of utmost importance. It has battle-proven AR ergonomics, adjustable cheek-rest and buttplate position, two stage precision trigger. It also features a 10/15 round detachable box magazine with visual round count identification, and a 24”/27” barrel with suppressor-ready 3-chambered muzzle brake.
- CARACAL CSR 50 – It is the final bad boy of the production line – a high-precision bolt-action sniper rifle that is meant to fire the 12.7×99 mm NATO round i.e.. the 50 BMG round. It is also applicable for anti-material missions, the primary job its round is meant to do. The CSR 50 has similar ergonomics and functions as the CSR 308 and CSR 338. It features the 10-round Barrett M82 detachable box magazine, a 29” barrel, a 5-chambered muzzle brake, and weighs only 9.5 kg without magazine, bipod and telescopic sight.
Also Read, Why India Isn’t Able To Develop A Rifle Despite Developing Aircraft And Missiles?
Impact Of This Deal –
Defence projects under ‘Make in India’ are one hell of a way of spearheading the road to making India grab that spot on the world map in the field of indigenous defence capabilities. Being specific to this domain, the CARACAL-ICOMM collaboration is a ground-breaking deal which also implies the fact that a company of that calibre has analysed India to be their production location for their business growth and exports. Moreover, the fact that the complete production of these firearms from scratch holds insane significance for deals under ‘Make in India.” Also, the full Transfer of Technology (ToT) stands in favor of us, which will provide the full know-hows of the design, manufacturing, production, fabrication, and assembly of the guns. Considering the fact that our nation is a new entry to weapon indigenization, the minute details of product knowledge will prove to be of the utmost importance for future defense growth. Research on every aspect and detail may grow in these sectors, and considering the stature of CARACAL, this ToT will help India in setting up the proper infrastructure/technical advancements, and improvisation to reach to the level of firearms development—a handheld enjoyment, the armed forces of the West are used to. It will also help in the full-fledged utilization of the existing infrastructure by determining the statistics, which will improve and increase weapons production further.
Then comes the domestic market competitions in the arms market. Firstly, we have to see that the private companies that have inked defence roles or PPP agreements are more engaged in defence equipment than small arms. To mention some big targets, the Tata Power and Kalyani Group involvement in DRDO ATAGS procurement, Bharat Forge’s indigenous M777 trials, Godrej Aerospace’s Brahmos airframe assemblies, Larsen & Toubro’s JV with MBDA for 5th generation ATGMs, and Tata Advanced Systems Limited’s collaboration with Boeing for Apache Ah-64 fuselage production are just a few. But when it comes to small arms production and assembly, the road tapers down to a huge percentage.
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To take a couple of big names in the gun game, there are SSS Defence and Adani Defence and Aerospace. Let’s take Adani Defence and Aerospace which is in collaboration with IWI (Israel Weapon Industries) under the name of PLR Systems Pvt Ltd for producing small arms such as the IWI Tavor, IWI Negev, IWI Galil sniper, Uzi etc. In one of their most recent accomplishments, they delivered 500 9-mm Masada pistols to the Indian Navy’s MARCOS. On the other hand, Stumpp Schuele & Somappa Defence (SSS Defence) is an indigenous private firm which made a landmark when it became the first private Indian company to produce sniper rifles the release of .338 Lapua Magnum Saber sniper and the .308 Viper sniper rifle. It also become the first private firm to seal a firearms order where SSS Defence had to upgrade a number of Indian Army AK-47s which featured day/night optic accessories, mil-spec components, longer scope options and good Picatinny rail system for better grip, accuracy and overall performance.
Also Read, SSS Defence: New Leader In Indian Private Sector Defence Manufacturing
CARACAL is the largest small arms manufacturer in the Middle East, and it can set a big benchmark if their production line gets drafted for induction into the Indian Armed Forces after all testing processes. Although SSS Defence may grab the SOPMOD-like upgrades for AKs and SVD-Dragunovs, CARACAL poses a bigger competition in front of them and other emerging or existing private defence firms as they have more recognition, budget, foreign-government support, infrastructure, and battle-proven mechanics. Who knows when CARACAL will enter into next-generation weapon programs for our armed forces and snatch those contracts.