The new sniper rifles, Beretta’s.338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT and Barrett’s .50-calibre M95 guns, which have an effective kill range from 1,500 to 1,800 metres, are being purchased under the Northern Army Command chief ‘s emergency financial powers. “The rifles should arrive soon,” said an officer.
The larger “capital procurement” of 5,719 new 8.6mm sniper rifles to equip all the 382 infantry battalions in the over 12-lakh strong Army – each unit is authorized 10 sniper rifles – will however take another couple of years. Sniping is posing a major operational challenge for Indian troops along the 778-km long LoC, with Pakistan Army soldiers equipped with modern Remington modular sniper rifles as well as better training, as was reported earlier by TOI.
Indian infantry soldiers, in contrast, are saddled with Russian-origin 7.62mm Dragunov semi-automatic sniper rifles, which have a “limited” kill range of 800-metre and a design vintage of the 1960s. In the absence of Picatinny rails, the Dragunov rifles are also incompatible with several modern essential accessories like magnification and sight systems.
The Army’s Para-Special Forces units, already equipped with advanced sniper rifles like Israeli Galil rifles, are now also getting some long-range Finnish Sako sniper rifles, which have a kill range of around 2,400-metre.
But it’s the infantry soldiers deployed along the LoC who desperately need new weapons, ranging from assault and sniper rifles to close-combat carbines and light machine guns.
Much more than the use of heavier weapons like mortars, light artillery and anti-tank guided missiles, effective sniper operations have a greater demoralising effect on rival troops in the continuing hostilities and ceasefire violations along the LoC.