Under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, Indian made Israeli Tavor X 95 rifles are now being supplied to central forces and various state police forces. Until now, special forces and others using these assault rifles used to import them from the Israel Weapons Industry (IWI), a former Israeli government firm that was privatized in 2005.
The Indian Army has also issued a fresh Request for Information (RFI) to fast-track procurement (FTP) of 93,895 carbines, after the last process, under which UAE firm Caracal was shortlisted, was scrapped.
The Army has issued RFI to all major foreign small arms manufacturers, including Caracal, Colt, SiG Sauer, Beretta, and Kalashnikov. But a major change in FTP this time is that the RFI has also been sent to multiple domestic firms like the Ordnance Factory Board, SSS Defence, Bharat Forge of the Kalyani Group, Reliance Defence, and the Adani-PLR Systems, among others.
The front runner is likely to be the Adani-PLR Systems, which has presented the Israeli Galil Ace 21 carbine that is now manufactured in India. Ace 21 was chosen by the Army in an earlier attempt (2013-14) to buy carbines, but the deal could not go through because of a single vendor situation, a development which is forbidden under the Indian defense procurement rules.
The IWI, however, did not take part in the FTP (2017) because it was eyeing a deal for assault rifles (won by an American firm) and the Light Machine Guns (LMGs) — that it had won and is in the process of delivering to the Army.
Sources said that a large tender for over 3 lakh carbines is also in the process and could be issued later this year. This would be a ‘Make in India’ initiative. As per defense sources, the Caracal deal with UAE based firm was scrapped. By December, it was reported that the UAE firm had offered to manufacture them in India.
The Adani-PLR Systems also manufactures the 56×45 mm chambered Tavor X 95 which are used by the special forces and others. These rifles come with ‘Made in India’ markings and were showcased during the recently-held Aero India 2021.
Sources said that the CISF has procured these ‘Made in India’ rifles, along with other state police forces. They have also stated that Adani-PLR Systems is currently in the process of setting up India’s first private barrel manufacturing plant in Gwalior. After this move, the indigenous manufacturing of rifles will reach up to 75 percent
The Gwalior facility would be operational by the end of this year and it is expected that other Indian private small arms players will be using it, rather than importing barrels from outside the country.