The Indian Army is hunting for a new sniper rifle for the infantry which will have considerably more range, fire power and accuracy than the existing inventory, giving soldiers on the borders an edge over the enemy.
Proposals have been invited from global manufacturers to present modern sniper rifles that can take down targets at a range of 1,200 metres with highly accurate 8.6 mm bullets – a new standard which has much more stopping power than the 7.62 mm rounds being used at present.
In a request for information, the Army has spelt out its need for over 5,000 new sniper rifles — to be assigned to infantry units that are primarily stationed along the border — and the specifications mean that these would have 50 per cent more range than the currently used Russian Dragunov rifles.
The extra range can be the difference between life and death on the border, particularly on the line of control where soldiers are posted within visual range of each other in mountainous terrain. The escalation in violence on the border has hastened several procurement plans of the Army.
There have been at least three cases of fatal casualties on the Indian side through sniper fire in the past few months. The request for information is the first stage of procurement and tenders are likely to be issued by June next year.
The Army has also asked manufacturers for information on whether the rifles required can be manufactured in India as part of a joint venture or through a transfer of license.
This information is needed for the Army to ‘categorise’ the purchase. As per the new procurement policy, only those weapon systems that cannot be made in India would be procured from international sources.
In the case of the sniper rifle, however, the numbers required may not be adequate to produce the weapon in India in a cost beneficial manner. The Army has been trying to procure a new set of weapons for the infantry — the largest warfighting arm of the military.