India is looking for a new rifle to replace their aging arsenal. They’re hoping that a new 100 percent Indian-designed and manufactured firearm will fit the bill. There’s just one problem: the gun doesn’t work.
India was one of the countries who hopped on the FN FAL bandwagon in the 1950’s during the post-WWII NATO weapons standardization drive. Well, a cheaply made unlicensed copy of the FN FAL. Or more accurately a cheaply made unlicensed copy of the L1A1 British FN FAL knockoff. (Above)
In the 1980’s the Indian military decided to swap from 7.62 NATO to the more common 5.56 NATO. They redesigned a Soviet AKM and adopted that as the INSAS.
In the years since the INSAS rifle was introduced there have been a long series of complaints about the gun, from poorly made magazines cracking in the cold to issues with reliability and unexpected full auto fire.
Another big issue that seems to come up time and again: soldiers keep getting sprayed in the face with oil when shooting the gun. In 2011, Indian officials declared that the problems had been fixed. At the same time they also issued requests to the firearms industry for a rifle to replace the INSAS platform.
The latest RFP for the replacement firearms required a lightweight firearm chambered in 7.62×51 NATO. So the Indian firearms industry had a go. The Indian military (used to their 5.56 NATO rifles) didn’t like the results.
From the Xinhua news agency:
India’s home-made assault rifles have failed basic trials, thus being rejected by the Indian Army, media reports said Thursday.
The 7.62 x51 mm indigenous assault rifles, which were made by state-owned Ordnance Factory Board and meant to replace AK-47s used by Indian armed forces, have many faults, including excessive recoil and excessive flash and sound signature, unnamed Army sources were quoted as saying.
When moving from an intermediate cartridge like the 5.56 NATO to a proper rifle cartridge like 7.62 NATO there’s going to be more recoil, more noise and more flash. That’s just part of the package.
It sounds to me like the Indian military needs is a good silencer, which should reduce noise, flash, and recoil all in one fell swoop. But who expects the procurement department of the military — any military — to use common sense when politics are involved? Which is always.