“Should it be a rifle that ‘kills’ the enemy soldier or terrorist?” timesofindia.indiatimes.com asks. “Or, should it merely ‘wound’? With the decade-long hunt for a new-generation assault rifle still nowhere near finalization, the Army’s top generals will discuss this basic but critical weapon for infantry soldiers next week. The debate is about the ‘quantum of lethality’ required . . .
As per the Army’s experience, the 5.56mm rifle is considered better for conventional war since it generally injures an enemy soldier, which ties down at least two of his colleagues to carry him as well as hits general morale in the opposing force. The 7.62mm rifle is preferred for counter-insurgency since the aim is to kill a terrorist at the first instance before he can unleash mayhem. “There are different arguments for each side. The lethality, of course, also depends on where a bullet hits,” said an officer.
“The fact remains that all soldiers prefer the rugged 7.62mm AK-47s, which also have a higher rate of fire, than the indigenous 5.56mm INSAS (Indian small arms system) rifles for counterterrorism in J&K,” he added.
Not go all Hannah Montana, but the Indian Army tried to get the best of both worlds. That didn’t work out so well . . .
The Army’s “over-ambitious” experiment to induct rifles with interchangeable barrels, with a 5.56 x 45mm primary barrel for conventional warfare and a 7.62 x 39mm secondary one for counter-terrorism, failed miserably.
As first reported by TOI in May last year, the proposed mega project was junked since the rifles on offer by armament firms like Colt (US), Beretta (Italy), Ceska (Czech Republic) and Israel Weapon Industries were not found suitable and cost-effective after extensive trials.
Keep in mind this is a MASSIVE contract. (According to wikipedia.org, the Indian Army boasts 1,129,900 active personnel, 960,000 reserve personnel and 136 aircraft. Wait. What?) And if you think America’s military procurement process is corrupt, just imagine how this rifle choice thing is playing out in India.