The United Arab Emirates(UAE) has pushed for the long-pending contract for 93,895 Close Quarter Battle (CQB) Carbines for Indian Army won by its state-owned firm, Caracal, during the recent visit of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the know said the matter came up during the talks held with the Indian delegation led by Jaishankar, and the UAE has pitched the deal under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
“The issue of the pending deal for carbines did come up. The deal is in progress,” a source said.
Officials in the External Affairs Ministry, however, remained tight-lipped when ThePrint reached for a formal comment on the matter.
The CQB Carbines, with short barrel, are meant for operations in urban environment and room interventions, especially in counter-terrorism operations like in Jammu and Kashmir.
The UAE has been pushing hard for the deal in which Caracal had emerged as the lowest bidder in 2018 for a contract that was supposed to be fast-tracked.
ThePrint had reported on 15 September that the Defence Ministry had decided to scrap this deal and proceed under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Following this, the UAE envoy to India had met with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat to convey UAE’s commitment to India.
When Caracal’s CAR 816 carbine was shortlisted in 2018, it was seen as more of a diplomatic maneuvering to keep the UAE happy rather than a pure military decision.
This is the first time Indian forces will start using a weapon from the UAE, which itself is one of the largest importers of defence equipment.
Why contract ran into rough weather
The UAE Caracal carbines are meant to replace the outdated and ageing 9 mm British Sterling 1A1 sub-machine guns that are in service with the armed forces.
While there is an overall demand of about 3.5 lakh such weapons, the Army had in 2017 decided to opt for Fast Track Procurement (FTP) of 93,895 new carbines.
However, the contract ran into rough weather over several issues, including costs and complaints from other bidders.
The delivery of 72,400 American SiG 716 G2 battle rifles, selected at the same time as Caracal in 2018 under FTP, has been completed and the Indian Army has moved ahead with an order for another 72,000 such rifles to arm its frontline troops.
As reported earlier, efforts to acquire the CQB carbines since 2008 have not materialised as the carbines of state-owned DRDO and Ordnance Factory Board had failed to meet Army requirements.
Global tender of 44,618 CQB Carbines issued in 2011
A global tender for procurement of 44,618 CQB Carbines was issued in 2011 wherein four companies — Israel’s IWI, Italian Beretta, and American firms Colt and Sig Sauer — participated. However, only IWI qualified on qualitative requirements pertaining to night vision mounting systems.
But the Defence Ministry did not procure them because IWI had become a single vendor, which is not allowed according to the procurement manual.
In 2017, a global Request for Information (RFI) was issued for the purchase of 2 lakh carbines, while a separate process was rolled out to procure 93,895 under FTP.
The request for proposal was expected within a year of issuing RFI, but it is still awaited.