In line with the government’s focus on `Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in defence, a fresh Request for Information (RFI) has been issued by the Indian Army for procuring 93,895 Close Quarter Carbines (CQB).
The RFIs issued earlier this month have been sent to several companies including Colt (US), SiG Sauer (US), Beretta (Italy), Thales of France, Caracal (UAE) and Adani Defence. The RFIs for the CQBs to be procured under the Fast Track Procedure (FTP) have come five months after the Ministry of Defence cancelled plans of procuring from Caracal of UAE.
Financial Express Online has been following the Caracal story from the time it was down selected in 2018 as the lowest bidder in the FTP procurement for the CAR 816 carbine. The Indian Army is planning to replace the 9 mm 1A1 `Sterling’ Carbine. The UAE based company had completed all the laid down procedures to sign the contract last year. However, the deal was cancelled and the company leadership had several rounds of meetings with the Indian side and had also met with external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar and the Indian Army Chief Gen MM Naravane when they had visited UAE in 2020.
What is the Indian Army looking for?
In the page long RfI, the Indian Army is looking for the specifications as it was before — chambered for the 5.56×45 mm cartridge. The procurement will be through FTP.
Should have Effective Range not less than 200 metres; Accuracy less than equal to MoA; Picatinny Rails: MIL Standard1913 compliant; Weight should not be more than 3.3 kg and this should be minus the magazine and other accessories; Reliability while filing 2000 rounds it should not suffer more than three `Class-1’ or `Class-II’ and no Class-III stoppages. Morst importantly it should be able to operate in Minus 20 Degrees Celsius to plus 45 Degrees Celsius.
Why was the acquisition from Caracal shelved?
Last year in September the decision was taken by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, who heads the Defence Procurement Board (DPB). And the reasons cited included: more expensive than the SiG 716 Assault Rifles India had procured from the US and lack of indigenous content in the CQB from UAE.
Following the cancellation, the UAE based company had announced its plans to manufacture the CQBs in India with Indian components.
Made in India options on offer to the Indian Army
As has been reported earlier, carbines designed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had in December last year cleared the final phase of trials for the Joint Venture Protective Carbine (JVPC).
The 5.56×30 Protective Carbine is a gas operated Semi Bull-pup automatic weapon and comes with more than 700 rpm rate of fire.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Defence stated that during trials all the GSQR parameters were met with. And the trials were carried out in extreme temperatures including summer and high altitudes during winter.
The DRDO made Protective Carbine comes with a Range of more than 100 m, and weighs about 3.0 kg. And it has features like — high reliability, single hand firing capability, low recoil, retractable Butt, ergonomic design and multiple Picatinny rails etc.
The DRDO Carbine has been designed based on the Indian Army’s GSQR by one of its labs Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), based in Pune.
While this will be manufactured at the Smalls Arms Factory in Kanpur to fulfil orders for the Para Military forces, the ammunition for this will be manufactured at ammunition Factory, Kirkee Pune.
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) too has offered CQB to the Indian Army
In 2017, the OFB had failed to provide a carbine to the Indian Army, and this led to the decision of importing these carbines through FTP route. However, in 2020, the Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI), under OFB has decided to jump in the race to make these in India.
Located on the outskirts of Kolkata, the RFI has developed an advanced 5.56 mmx45 mm carbine. This carbine is undergoing evaluation.