In February 2019, 72,400 SiG-716 rifles of 7.62 x 51mm calibre were contracted from SIG Sauer Inc, USA, under government's 'Buy (Global) category', through fast track procedure

New Delhi: The defence ministry is in the final stages of approving a repeat order for 73,000 SiG-716 G2 patrol assault or battlefield rifles from the US to meet the requirements of its frontline troops.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said that notwithstanding reports of alleged cancellation of the proposed order of SiG-716, the ‘repeat order’ procurement of 73,000 rifles by defence ministry “is at the final stage of approval”.

In February 2019, 72,400 SiG-716 rifles — 66,400 for the army, 4,000 for the air force and 2,000 for the Navy — of 7.62 x 51mm calibre were contracted from SIG Sauer Inc, USA, under the government ‘Buy (Global) category’ through the fast track procedure (FTP).

The ‘Buy (Global)’ category refers to outright purchase of equipment from foreign vendors.

The consignment was delivered and distributed to the soldiers.

Contrary to initial plans to equip only frontline troops, the Army had then equipped over 400 infantry battalions with the SiG-716, as reported earlier. At least two companies (about 100 soldiers each) in all infantry battalions have been given the SiG-716 — irrespective of whether they are in the field or at peace stations.

The number of rifles distributed across the battalions differed, with some getting more than the others.

Defence sources said that considering the performance of the weapon, and to ensure operational necessity, commonality and associated logistics functionality, the defence ministry is now in the process of approving a repeat order of 73,000 SiG-716 assault rifles.

The fresh order is meant to meet the requirement of the remaining frontline troops, who did not receive these rifles the last time.

The reason for the selection of this particular weapon is because of a revision in the Indian Army’s operational philosophy in 2016, wherein the 7.62 x 51mm calibre was chosen over the 5.56 x 45mm calibre, as having the optimum calibre for operations, said sources.

They added that as a result, the SiG-716 Assault Rifle, being of higher calibre (7.62 x 51mm) has longer effective range, more lethality and higher recoil, as compared to the INSAS Rifle (5.56 x 51mm Calibre) or the AK-47 Rifle (7.62 x 39mm), which are also used.