The Indian Army’s love for foreign weapons hasn’t left its soul yet, even with the push for the Aatmnirbhar Bharat indigenization drive.
According to the Tribune, a UAE-based rifle manufacturer ‘Caracal’ has won the Army’s bid to supply 93,000 carbines (CAR-816) to the world’s third-largest standing force.
However, it isn’t just the Army’s reliance on foreign weapons. The lack of quality control at the Indian Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) is stated to be the main reason due to which the services have to look for foreign options.
This has also led to the recent decisions over privatization of the OFB, denying its monopoly over the Indian market and giving fair chance to private companies, as most other countries do.
Caracal’s CEO, Hamad Salem Al Ameri, mentioned the near-total probability of his firm’s winning the army’s contract for carbines in an interview given to the Tribune.
India already makes 60 percent of the product, it has selected, he said, adding that it is not just this close-quarter carbine for the Army, “We make an entire range of weapons like pistols.”
On being asked who is the Indian partner? Al Ameri said: “We await the formal order and will share details of the local partner. We have already identified the required land and will be able to commence production to meet the timelines agreed upon with the Indian Defence Ministry.”
Caracal has been eyeing the contract for years. It has been in the talks among defense circles and was recently reported that the deal might have come to a halt. However, the new interview might indicate that the process is still going on.
“Our focus remains on delivering a product which is best in quality and tailor-made as per the requirements of the Indian soldier,” Al Ameri said.
The company supremo also mentioned that they would also be facilitating the much-needed transfer of technology and have manufacturing facilities in India.
On being asked if his company would avail the 75 foreign direct investment route which India allows in defense manufacturing, he said, “We will explore all potential possibilities while engaging with India.
Not only we are prepared to supply quality weaponry that leverages cutting-edge technology, but also facilitates the transfer of technology and research and development facilities to India to build a more substantial ecosystem,” Tribune reported.
However, several Indian private companies are also manufacturing world-class rifles like PLR Systems Pvt Ltd, which is an Indian Joint Venture with Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), Israel for manufacturing of Small Arms and Opto Electronics in India.
It manufactures the famous Tavor series of rifles, Uzi submachine guns, the Galil ACE assault rifles, and other Israeli guns like the Jericho and Masada.