NEW DELHI --- The Indian Army has issued a global request for information (RFI) regarding a potential procurement of some 200,000 close-quarter battle carbines in 5.56mm caliber. The order is expected to eventually grow to 500,000 in order to equip internal security forces as well.
The formal tender is expected to be issued in the coming six months with transfer of technology and local license-production part of the contract conditions. Any such sale would therefore involve a tie-up between a foreign vendor and Indian defense firm as part of the "Buy and Make India" procurement category.
The quest for new close-quarter battle carbines has followed a winding path familiar to Indian defense procurement projects. A domestic development effort through the state-owned Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) failed to garner military acceptance, while a global tender launched in 2011for 44,618 carbines along with 33.6 million rounds of ammunition ultimately being cancelled.
The latter tender elicited bids from Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), Beretta, Colt and Sig Sauer. IWI emerged as the single vendor for the tender after the others failed to meet the qualitative requirements pertaining to night vision mounting.
The latest bid is expected to garner attention from Italy's Beretta, FN FAL of Belgium, Heckler & Koch of Germany, Colt and Sig Sauer. Local tie-up possibilities include Indian private sector firms Mahindra Defense, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge and Reliance Defense.