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India’s tensions with China continue to escalate as China forces its way into Indian territory. Last year India purchased 72,400 rifles made by US based company Sig Sauer.
This batch of firearms has already been distributed to units throughout the country including the Indian Army’s Northern Command.
Defence sources told Asian News International: “We are going to place an order for 72,000 more of these rifles under the financial powers granted to the armed forces.”
In February 2019, Sig Sauer announced the original contract of assault rifles.
The firearms were delivered under a fast-track procurement program.
The aim of this initial deal was to replace the existing Indian Small Arms System that were manufactured locally by the Ordnance Factories board.
Ron Cohen, president and CEO of Sig Sauer released a statement when the initial deal was made.
He said: “We competed in an open tender with small arms manufacturers from around the world.
“The SIG716 rifle underwent a comprehensive and exhaustive testing and evaluation process where it outperformed the competition, and was ultimately chosen, and met all the criteria, as the best rifle to modernise the Indian Army.”
India has the second largest standing army in the world according to the National Interest.
The country has more than 1.2 million active troops and it has been undergoing a comprehensive firearms procurement process developed in order to advance the army’s capabilities.
The SIG716 is produced at Sig Sauer’s New Hampshire facility in the US.
The rifles have been sent to priority units set up for counterinsurgency and frontier anti-terror.
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But they will not be the only new weapon supplied to the Indian Army.
Around 700,000 soldiers will receive the assault rifle, Kalashnikov AK-203, which are being produced as part of a joint venture between Russia and India.
But there have been delays in the production of this assault rifle due to several procedural issues faced by both Russia and India.
Production has also slowed due to the coronavirus pandemic which has hit India hard.
There are over 900 thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India and 24,309 reported deaths due to the coronavirus.
The National Interest said the production issues could be a reason why India is pushing ahead with a deal with the US based company.
In February, the US President Donald Trump visited India and spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in Ahmedabad at the world’s largest cricket stadium.
He said: “India is now a major market for American exports – and the United States is India’s largest export market.”
India’s Defence Ministry has also pledged to purchase 16,000 light machine guns from Israel.
These deals come as India and China remain in a stand-off in Ladakh as the two sides continue to dispute.
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