Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Army looking for foreign carbines

NAGPUR: It’s not that induction of just advanced weaponry is getting delayed in the armed forces. Same is the case with a simple carbine. It is a gun with a holed barrel commonly seen with a VIPs security guard. The Indian Army wants to replace its old 9mm carbine of World War II vintage with a 5.56 one.

After an earlier plan to make this with foreign collaboration fizzled out, the army has begun scouting for the weapon in open market. A request for information (RFI) was lately posted on Indian Army website inviting details on this type of gun from the vendors. Carbine is smaller than rifles and used for close quarter combat. The army in its RFI has left it upon the vendor to specify the weight, length, rate of fire and so on.

While it wants the interested parties to inform whether their carbine has features like laser spot designator, or flash eliminator. Earlier it was planned to make 5.56 carbines in collaboration with Singapore Technologies Kinetic (STK), at local ordnance factories. However, as is becoming the norm, a commission scandal led to the deal with STK being held up. The former chairman of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) Sudipto Ghosh was arrested in this case. Interestingly, a 5.56 carbine is already being made by two different government agencies in the country. But for some reasons, army is interested in importing it. The one being made by Indian ordnance factory is called ‘Amogh’.

The other one is being developed by the Pune-based Armaments Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), a unit of Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO). The 9 mm carbine currently used by the army and other forces is being made at the ordnance factory in Kanpur. Enquiries at the army spokesperson’s office in New Delhi about the RFI elicited no response. Other sources in the army said a 5.56 carbine is needed so as to achieve standardization of ammunition. Now the army uses rifles and light machine guns of 5.56 calibre so it has to keep 9 mm ammunition just for carbines. “If a5.56 mm carbine is inducted, similar ammunition can be used in different weapons,” said a source in the army.

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