Photo from Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Ladakh Friday reveals recent acquisitions made by the Army’s Para Special Forces

The Army's Para-Special Forces units, already equipped with advanced sniper rifles like Israeli Galil rifles, are now in possession of long-range Finnish Sako sniper rifles, which have a kill range of around 2,400-metre.

The above photograph shows a Jawan carrying the .338 SAKO sniper rifle. Made in Finland, it is considered to be one of the best snipers in the world. Around 40-50 of the long-range sniper rifles were procured last year. This acquisition was in tandem with the purchase of two other sniper rifles by the Army last year — the Italian-made Beretta .338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT and the American .50 Calibre M95 manufactured by Barrett reported ThePrint.

About SAKO Sniper Rifle

Finnish Sako sniper rifle is designed to meet individual demands, and adjusts to each shooter’s personal style, build and posture. The aluminium reinforced composite stocks are available in two colour options: black or green. The stock is designed for both right and left handed shooters. The rear stock is adjustable in height and cast off/on, and features cheekpiece which can be adjusted laterally and with spacers also vertically. The butt plate is adjustable for distance and angle trough the use of spacers and is also infinitely adjustable in height and pitch.

The rear stock adjustments can be done quickly without the use of any tools. The stock can also be securely locked down when required by using tools that come inside the weapon. The pistol grip has an interchangeable back strap in three different sizes; all three are included in the standard package. Action frame is cold hammer-forged from special alloyed steel, stiff and sturdy for extra rigidity. The receiver is stabilized with three fastening screws. All Sako TRG receivers are are drilled and tapped for an accessory Picatinny rail. Integral 17mm axial scope mounting rails with recoil stop-slots.

EXFIL High Cut Ballistic Helmet

Another key equipment that is quite evident in the picture above is the helmet worn by another Jawan. The helmet is the American-made Exfil High Cut Ballistic Helmet, which features a hybrid composite shell for increased strength with a unique geometry for optimal fit. Sources said these helmets were also acquired in limited numbers for specialised units.


​The EXFIL Ballistic features a hybrid composite shell for increased strength with a unique geometry for optimal fit. An innovative, boltless CAM FIT retention quickly adjusts to individual head shapes, providing a comfortable and stable fit. A Zorbium foam liner protects against impact and allows for an overhead communications headband. Customizable fit is achieved through a set of moveable comfort pads. A lanyard compatible Wilcox shroud secures any standard NVG mount.

Infantry soldiers deployed along the LoC desperately needed 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.

In February 2018, MoD had approved procurement of 5,719 sniper rifles for the Army and Air Force at an estimated cost of 982 crore from the global market under the 'Buy Global' categorisation, the ammunition for which was to be initially procured and subsequently manufactured in India. This was as sequel to Pakistan army increasingly using US-made Remington modular rifles with effective range up to 1,000m plus to target our Army and BSF soldiers astride the LoC and IB. It was also reported that new 8.6mm sniper rifles, with effective kill range of 1,200m, would replace the vintage 7.62mm Dragunov sniper rifles with 800m range that were acquired from Russia in 1990 for our Army. Another media report said that the Para (SF) units, presently holding Israeli Galil sniper rifles, are being equipped with Finnish Sako rifles with kill range of around 2,000m plus. But this was learnt later to have stalled.

The Army had gone in for an emergency purchase of a very small number of advanced sniper rifles, with longer ranges as well as modern telescopic sights, for troops deployed along the Line of Control with Pakistan.

Sniper rifles, Beretta's.338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT and Barrett's .50-calibre M95 guns, have an effective kill range from 1,500 to 1,800 metres, was reportedly purchased under the Northern Army Command chief 's emergency financial powers.

Sniping was 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.

Indian infantry soldiers, in contrast, were 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. However, with the purchase of these advanced systems the Indian Army's sniping power balance has shifted in India's favour.

Our Bureau