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More Delay for Assault Rifles as Govt Reboots Procurement

Despite efforts of the Indian Army to fast track the procurement of small arms, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering to issue a fresh request for proposal (RfP) for the procurement of 93,895 close-quarter-battle carbines (CQB), a deal worth $553.33 mn. The Indian Army which has been trying for long time to replace age-old ‘INSAS’ rifles which has reliability issues, has so far failed in finding the right replacement either from foreign OEMs or from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

After receiving a series of complaints against Caracal of the UAE which was shortlisted as the lowest bidders for the CQBs, from the other bidders including French Company Thales and S&T Motiv of South Korea, the MoD is mulling on cancelling the previous RfP. As has been reported earlier by FE, a nine-member committee headed by an Army brigadier has been receiving complaints regarding non-compliance of Caracal of UAE.

The UAE Company has failed to submit its response as per the format of the commercial bid and the amount of Rs 70 crore was not reflected in the bid format which is used for determination of L1 vendor. Concerns have also been expressed to the nine member committee about the ability of Caracal to supply 96,000 weapons within a period of 12 months as required under the RfP. Officials confirmed that the UAE based company started its commercial production in 2014 and till date does not have a lot of orders to indicate that it has the capacity to produce 93,895 CQBs. Adding, “This, in turn will also impact the life cycle of the weapon as the company has no previous data to establish the reliability of the CQB.”

As has been reported earlier, the procurement of 93,895 CQB for the Indian Army had run into rough weather, when after stiff evaluations two companies — Caracal of the UAE and S&T Motiv of South Korea —had been declared non-compliant by a nine-member committee headed by an Army brigadier. This left Sig Sauer of the US, Kanpur-based MKU with French company Thales in the race. Caracal of the UAE and Reliance Armaments with S&T Motiv of South Korea were competing for this deal. It may be recalled that the Embassy of South Korea in New Delhi had protested against being declared non-compliant in spite of meeting all the requirements laid down in the request for proposal.

The nine member team had gone to facilities of the competing companies before being invited for the extensive trials in India for testing with the Indian ammunition and in different terrains and temperature. Representatives of the S&T Motiv, producers of small arms for the last four decades were part of the delegation when South Korean President Moon Jae-in had visited India in July. The company had offered to transfer technology to produce the CQBs under Make in India initiative when the defence minister of that country had visited close on the heels of President Moon Jae-in. Source: Financial Express