Chaubatia, Uttarakhand: With the much awaited deal for AK 203 getting delayed, Indian Army is equipping its over 400 infantry battalions with the American Sig Sauer assault rifles, procured under fast-tracked process (FTP), as against the original plan to arm only its frontline troops with the latest weapon.
The Army had initially bought the Sig 716 G2 Patrol assault/battlefield rifles, chambered for the 7.62×51 mm rounds, in 2019 under FTP for frontline soldiers — posted at the borders and involved in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.
However, all infantry battalions are now getting equipped with the American rifles, sources in the defence establishment said.
This will replace some of the obsolete Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56×45 mm rifles in use for over two decades.
According to the plan, at least two companies (about 100 soldiers each) in all the infantry battalions are being given the Sig 716 — irrespective of whether they are in the field or at peace stations.
The quantity will, however, differ with some of the battalions getting more weapons.
Each infantry battalion of the Army has four companies, commonly referred to as the Alfa, Bravo, Charlie and Delta companies.
However, certain battalions have their own unique names. For example, 1 Mahar as the Whiskey, X Ray, Yankee and Zulu company. 13 Kumaon does not have a Charlie company but is called Rezang La company in honour of the fallen soldiers of C company.
While the initial lot of the modern assault rifles from the US was sent to those guarding the Line of Control with Pakistan and for counter-terrorism operations in Kashmir, troops at the LAC in the northern sector in Ladakh are also being equipped with it now.
In December, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had accorded approval for the procurement of additional 72,400 Sig 716 rifles for approximately Rs 780 crore. This was also done under FTP, and is part of the option clause of the original deal signed in 2019.