By Rohit Srivastava
Post Balakot, India is on a purchasing spree to enhance the combat capability of its armed forces. In a recent decision, a high powered committee of the Ministry of Defence(MoD), has cleared an Indian Army’s proposal to equip its Special Forces with weapons and equipment used by the US Special Forces.
Since the surgical strike on the terror launch pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), India Army has been mulling over the idea to equip its Special Force (Para) with best weapons and equipment available in the market. What better than what is in service with the US SF?
The approved proposal includes 715 Mk 48 light machine guns, 1,050 Scar (H) assault rifles (7.62x51), 1,400 Scar (L)/ HK 416 assault rifle (5.56x45), 110 FN .50 cal Browning heavy machine gun, 400 helmet-mounted night vision goggles, 600 combat free-fall parachutes, 100 Barret M107 A1 heavy sniping rifles, 20 million ammunition rounds.
The purchase will be made from the US through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.
The expected cost of the acquisition is over Rs 800 crore. Instead of going through the usual route, the purchase is expected to go through the emergency power of the Vice-Chief of Army Staff which does not require any go-ahead from the Defence Acquisition Council, the apex capital purchase body of the Ministry of Defence, for proposal below Rs 300 crore. To comply with this, each item will be ordered separately.
The biggest chunk of the purchase will be from the Belgian FN Herstel which manufacture Scar (H) and (L) assault rifles and .50 cal heavy machine gun. For the 5.56 gun mainly to be used as a close-quarter carbine, the Indian army is expected to choose Scar(L) over its rival HK 416, as the two Scars share 80 commonalities in parts and near-identical training and maintenance manuals.
Reportedly, the proposal was approved by the Services Capital Acquisition Plan Categorization Higher Committee (SCAPHCC) sometime last week. Each assault rifle will come with add ons like telescopic sights, silencers, target designator, reflex sights etc.
Scar (H) is considered as the best assault rifle in the market today and was Indian Army’s preferred choice for its assault rifle competition. But due to the prohibitive cost of this ultra-modern and accurate rifle, it was well beyond the sanctioned budget for the programme.