The tender, which is expected to be issued later this year, will seek a transfer of technology for the carbines to be produced under licence in India under a partnership deal with domestic defence companies.
The Indian Army has issued a global request for information (RFI) for the procurement of 360,000 5.56mm close-quarter battle carbines at a cost of about $750 million under the Buy and Make India category. This RFI is supplementary to the one issued by the Indian Army earlier this month for a 5.56 x 45 mm calibre carbine having an effective range of at least 200 metres.
Since as early as 2008, the Indian Army has been looking to replace its ageing in-service Sterling 9mm carbines, but the procurement process has failed to materialise, due to a number of reasons. Last year, the Indian Army successfully purchased 93,895 CAR 816 carbines from UAE-based Caracal International.
As the Indian Army seeks maximum participation of vendors in this contest, industry sources have suggested that overseas manufacturers, including Italy’s Beretta , Belgium’s FN FAL, Germany’s Heckler & Koch, the US’ Colt’s Manufacturing Company, in addition to a number Russian firms, may take part in the bid.
Surprisingly, these vendors opted out mid-way from the earlier fast track procurement contest that was won by Caracal International. Indian firms, like MKU Ltd, Mahindra Defence, Larsen & Toubro, and Bharat Forge, are aiming to partner with the global firms.
A dream contest for the Indian Army would involve Caracal International, Colt, Beretta, S&T Motiv, Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), SIG Sauer, Heckler & Koch, and FN Herstal.
Earlier in 2016, the Indian Defence Ministry cancelled a six-year-old tender involving the procurement of 44,618 close-quarter battle carbines and 33.6 million rounds of ammunition. The bid was won by IWI but the Indian Law Ministry did not give its final go-ahead for the “single vendor situation” deal.