'Desi' rifle not good enough; Army finds weapon 'unsatisfactory' and 'unreliable'

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The review of a 'desi' or indigenously-designed assault rifle done by the Army has found the weapon "unsatisfactory" and "unreliable", denting the 'Make in India' mantra for enhancing India's military firepower.
"The weapon in its present form leaves much to be desired, is unsatisfactory and requires comprehensive design analysis," the Army's assessment says.

The weapon being developed by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was expected to meet the Army's requirement of nearly 2 lakh assault rifles, and be an alternative for the INSAS (Indian Small Arms Systems) rifles inducted in 1988.

Listing out the limitations in the 7.62 x 51 mm rifle after an internal evaluation, the Army review says that the weapon is a prototype with several faults that go beyond 20 times the maximum permissible limit.

A trial was conducted at the Rifle Factory in West Bengal's Chapore on June 13 and 14 after which it was decided that modifications and rectifications were needed.

An official from OFB said that the Army was satisfied after the first round of testing. "The Army gave a positive report recently," said the official who did not wish to be named.

The rejection of the rifle in its present form has prompted a meeting scheduled for Thursday with representatives from the armed forces, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Department of Defence Production to deliberate on the alternatives.

"After the first trials, certain shortcomings were noticed. Four of the eight rifles were not even fit for firing," Army sources said.

Sources said that the rifle was not fit for the next set of trials to be held in the infantry school in Madhya Pradesh's Mhow.

Excessive recoil in the rifle, redesigning of its magazine, concerns over its safety mechanism and an incompatible sighting system are some of the critical gaps listed by the Army.

"One of the rifles suffered a 'Barrel Bulge' raising concerns over the safety mechanism. The critical aspect of its inbuilt as well applied safety must be and should have been incorporated at the design level," the Army assessment says.

In September 2016, when the Ministry of Defence came out with a Request For Information (RFI) to identify probable vendors, it was stated that out of the total requirement of 1.85 lakh rifles, 65,000 were needed urgently.

The Army's demands for the rifle included an effective range of 500 metres, optimised recoil for comfort and accuracy weighing 4.5 kg that falls in the light category.
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