The INSAS, the standard assault rifle of the Indian armed forces, will be retired very soon. They will be replaced by a deadlier imported assault rifle which will be manufactured in India.
The reason behind going for a better assault rifle is the fact that the INSAS cannot basically ‘kill’ the enemy but maim him.
INSAS was inducted in the army in 1988. They are used extensively in counter terror operations as well as conventional war, including Kargil.
Compared to an AK-47, the preferred weapon of the terrorists, an INSAS can do little damage. An INSAS is not effective at long range, which makes it difficult for a soldier to shoot down an enemy from a safer distance.
Why the Army needs a better assault rifle is clear, but what kind of assault rifle do the forces need?
The Army wants to have a rifle that uses cartridges of size 7.62x51mm.
The INSAS uses a 5.56x45mm cartridge. By comparison the AK-47 uses a 7.62x.39mm cartridge. It is the difference in the cartridge size that defines how lethal the weapon is.
In fact, the standard assault rifle of the Pakistani Army is Heckler & Koch G3, which uses 7.62x51mm cartridges.
Other rifles that use a similar cartridge are Belgium’s FN SCAR L and Israel’s Galil.
The FN SCAR is one of the few assault rifles that comes in different barrel lengths, overall lengths and weight.
Besides 20 countries, it is used by all units of US Special Operations Command including the Navy SEALs.
Israel’s Galil is considered one of the deadliest assault rifles ever produced.
In extensive use by Israeli armed forces and many countries, the Galil, like the FN SCAR, comes in different lengths and weight.
One of its latest variants is the Galil ACE, which is the main assault rifle of the Colombian Army and police who need the weapon to tackle the FARC.
There are others, too. India might also go for American Colt CM901, which is currently used outside the US by Malaysia.
India will go for any of the finest assault rifles available in the world provided other requirements, such as transfer of technology, are met.
PTI reports that first priority will be on arming the Special Forces who conduct operations in the Northeast. It will be only after arming the Special Forces that attention will be placed on INSAS. It should also be noted that the forces such as CRPF, which fight Naxals, are in need of better assault rifles, too.
A foreign manufacturer is being sought because the Indian armed forces were not satisfied with the indigenously made assault rifle Excalibur, which is an improved version of INSAS but uses a cartridge similar in size.
The Indian Army needs around two lakh assault rifles that would replace the INSAS.