Defence ministry clears Indian Army’s proposal to procure another 73,000 SIG Sauer assault rifles from US

Team India Sentinels Wednesday 13th of December 2023 10:17 AM

An Indian Army soldier standing guard at the India Gate in New Delhi with a SIG 716 assault rifle. (India Sentinels photo.)

New Delhi: The defence ministry’s Defence Acquisition Council has given the go-ahead to the Indian Army to procure another 73,000 SIG Sauer’s SIG 716 assault rifles for its troops. This comes at a time when the manufacturing of AK-203 rifles under a Russia-India joint venture in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi has been snagged with several delays due to a range of reasons.

The DAC is headed by the defence minister and is the highest decision-making body in deciding on new policies and capital acquisitions for the three services – Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force – and the Indian Coast Guard.

The new procurement of the 73,000 SIG Sauer rifles will cost ₹840 crore. The fresh batch of the guns will add to the 72,400 SIG Sauers that the Army has already purchased for its frontline troops for ₹647 crore, a couple of years ago. Due to the delay in manufacturing of the AK-203, India entered a deal for 72,400 SIG 716 assault rifles with the US division of SIG Sauer, which is headquartered in Newington, New Hampshire.

Out of these 72,400 rifles, the Army got 66,400, the Air Force 4,000, and the Navy 2,000.

The SIG 716 is a 7.62 x 51mm-calibre gun with an effective kill range of 500 metres. This gun is superior to the indigenously made Insas (Indian Small Arms System) rifle, which is of 5.56 x 51mm calibre with effective kill range of 300 metres, and the AK-47, which is of 7.62 x 39mm calibre with an effective kill range of 300 metres.

Although there had been some criticism of the rifle, like it had several glitches, the Army has dismissed those concerns. Also, the ammunition used by the SIG 716 for the Army is manufactured in the country by the Indian ordnance factories, which works out to be in the country’s advantage.

SIG 716 and AK-203 programme

The Indian armed forces are procuring the SIG Sauer’s SIG 716 due to the delay in manufacturing of the AK-203 in India, as mentioned earlier. However, this is a stop-gap arrangement to meet the services’, especially the Army’s, immediate operational requirements. With Indian and Chinese troops are in a tense stand-off along the line of actual control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since the People’s Liberation Army’s incursion in the region in May 2020 and subsequent deadly clash in June that year, it became imperative for India to provide its troops with an advanced rifle.

The SIG 716 can be fitted with Picatinny rails. (It is named after Picatinny Arsenal of New Jersey, which in turn was named after the Picatinny peak in the New Jersey highlands.) This enables the user to mount several types of accessories and equipment on the rifle, like optical aiming sights, under-barrel grenade launchers, forehand grips, laser pointers, etc, without modifying the basic weapon.

On the other hand, the AK-203, a highly advanced version of the legendary AK-47, has an effective kill range of 300 metres. However, the rifle, which India is looking to mass-produce soon, is also a part of the Army “Future Infantry Soldier as System” or “F-InSaS/F-INSAS” programme.

What is the F-InSaS/F-INSAS programme?

The Army mooted to invest in the “Future Infantry Soldier as System” (F-InSaS or F-INSAS) programme way back in 2008. However, the programme went through several additions and modifications over time and got delayed due to several factors.

Initially, the programme had two subsystems or components – to equip the future infantry soldier with the best available assault rifle/carbines and personal gear, like helmets and body armour (bulletproof vests). The second subsystem was to integrate the individual soldier with battlefield management systems.

Following several modifications to the programme, the Army finally came out with three subsystems in F-InSaS.

In the first subsystem, the Army envisions to see the future infantry soldier’s AK-203 rifle and helmet to have day and night holographic and reflex sights mounted to enable the soldier a 360-degree view and enhance his accuracy in battle conditions.

The second subsystem will be a highly protective gear for the soldier, including special helmet and body armour. The third subsystem will have an advanced surveillance and highly secure communication system, which the soldier will carry on himself for advanced battlefield surveillance and coordination among fellow soldiers and command posts.


About Us | Contact Us | Privacy | Cookies