A few days back we shed light on how India, once deprived of Bullet Proof Jackets for its soldiers, is now not just producing them; it is also exporting the product to the world, highlighting its quality. Another long-pending demand of Light Machine Guns stands fulfilled now, as the Acquisition Wing of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed a contract with Israel Weapons Industries for procurement of 16,479 LMGs at a cost of ₹880 crore.
It is not to argue that the troops were not armed with sophisticated guns of this kind until now. However, the proposed LMGs are better than the ones that are presently in use.
The MoD press release said, “The contracted Negev 7.62X51 mm LMG is a combat proven weapon and currently used by several countries around the globe. This LMG will greatly enhance the lethality and range of a soldier vis-a-vis the presently used weapon.”
The New Indian Express report quoted Former DG (Military Operations) Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (Retd) underscoring the importance of the step. “This is very important for an infantry soldier as they were using the older versions. Light Machine is the mainstay of a section and assault group of a Unit and it was long overdue as the LMG in use was bought long back,” he said.
The Times of India report highlighted the long-standing demand for such LMGs by analysing the past developments on this issue. The report stated that, “the Army had first asked for new assault rifles and close-quarter battle carbines for its 382 infantry battalions (with 850 soldiers each) way back in 2005, while the case for the LMGs was initiated in 2009. But the long-drawn procurement projects were repeatedly scrapped due to graft allegations or unrealistic technical parameters as well as the lack of indigenous options for well over a decade.”
This kind of development in the defence sector is not an isolated example under the Modi government. You can refer our earlier articles to know how a big picture is emerging in this sector by addressing several long-pending demands.