New Delhi: Troops positioned along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) under the Northern Command will get the first tranche of Israeli Light Machine Gun (LMG) Negev NG-7 that has been procured under the fast-track procurement process (FTP).
Sources in the defence and security establishment said while 6,000 of the 7.62X51 mm LMGs, with belt ammunition capability, landed in the country in January, their acceptance trials are being completed and that forward troops will get their hands on them next week.
The new LMGs will replace the 5.56x45mm INSAS LMG, which is a derivative of the INSAS assault rifle.
This is the first tranche of the 16,479 Israeli guns ordered by the Indian Army last March when ceasefire violations by Pakistan at LoC was on the increase and before the new round of tensions at the LAC.
The Army is separately looking at a larger order for the LMGs, which will be through the Make in India route.
While some parts of the Negev are procured from India and the company has a joint venture with the Adani Group’s PLR Systems, the fast-track procurement was inked directly with the Israeli firm.
Sources said that the next tranche of the 10,000 LMGs will be delivered to India by September or October this year according to the schedule of the contract, which was valued at Rs 880 crore.
The Ministry of Defence had last year said that provisioning of this “operationally urgent and very critically needed weapon” will boost the confidence of the frontline troops and provide much needed combat power to the Armed Forces.
The Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for this fast track procurement was given by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in February 2018.
As part of the procurement process, an Army delegation had in 2019 visited three countries — Bulgaria, Israel and South Korea — to see the options available. It finally settled on the Negev that is already in use with the country’s special forces.
The calibre of NG-7 is bigger than the ones it is replacing, the Negev will have higher lethal firepower.
And because it has the belt ammunition feature, the new LMG will be able to have sustained rate of fire unlike the earlier one that was magazine fed. This meant that magazines had to be changed frequently.
It is also capable of pinpoint, single bullet shooting for enhanced firing accuracy, and has a range of over 800 meters, in line with the requirements of the Army.
In automatic mode, the NG-7 has a rate of fire of over 700 bullets per minute. Weighing 7.5 kg, the LMG can be fired from a wide range of mounts, vehicles, helicopters and naval vessels.