They want a 9mm pistol and a 9mm submachine gun having an indigenous content of ‘at least 60 per cent’

Chandigarh: The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Garud special forces are looking to procure new pistols and submachine guns having a high indigenous content, but there seem to be no prospects in the local market.

The IAF wants a 9mm pistol and a 9mm submachine gun having an indigenous content of “at least 60 per cent”. Approximately 1,900 pistols and 1,800 submachine guns are required by the force for use in close-quarter battle.

“Air Headquarters issued requests for proposals from Indian vendors in this regard a few days ago, but there are severe limitations. A couple of weapons in these categories presently being manufactured in India do not meet the required technical and physical specifications,” an IAF officer said.

The only 9mm pistol being produced in India is by the Ordnance factories, which is based on the old Browning Hi-Powered pistol.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation came up with an indigenous submachine gun last year. Most of the weapons used by the Indian special forces so far are direct imports.

“This implies that either an Indian vendor enters into a collaboration with a foreign manufacturer or the Indian industry designs a new weapon meeting the required specification,” the officer said. The relatively small number of weapons required by the special forces is also an issue.

The IAF wants a pistol that weighs less than 800 gram without a magazine and has a magazine capacity of 17 rounds or more. The submachine gun should weigh less than 3,200 grams without magazine and have a magazine capacity of 25 rounds or more.

Both weapons should be compatible with accessories like sound suppressor, optical sights, laser aiming devices and tactical torch, besides being able to operate in sub-zero temperatures and high humidity conditions.

The Garud force, at present, uses the Austrian Glock-17 9mm pistol and the Israeli Tavor TAR-21 5.56 mm assault rifle as standard issue personal weapons, besides some other weapons in varying numbers like the Galil sniper rifle, Negev light machine gun, AK-47 assault rifle and Beretta pistol. The IAF had sought bids for new pistols and submachine guns in the past from global vendors but the procurement process continued to hang fire.

Raised in September 2004, the Garud special force is tasked with the protection of critical Air Force bases and installations, counter terrorism, special reconnaissance, establishing airbases in hostile territory, suppression of enemy air defences and destruction of enemy assets, guide air strikes through laser designators and search and rescue missions.

Garuds are also deployed in Congo as part of the United Nations peace keeping missions and also in Jammu and Kashmir for anti-terrorist operations, where one member of the force was decorated posthumously with the Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award.