The Indian army is implementing its Future Infantry Soldier Program 2020.
A key component of the program is to upgrade Indian army infantry weapons. The upgraded weapons to be acquired include foreign-made assault rifles, carbines, light machine guns and sniper rifles over the next two years, as they are lighter and have longer ranges than indigenously made weaponry.
To fill an initial order for 60,000 assault rifles, in the past two weeks the army has completed initial user trials of five guns contending for the contract, including U.S. firms Beretta and Colt, Israel's IWI, Switzerland's Sig-Sauer and Czech Republic's Ceska. Technical evaluations are to commence shortly, The Pioneer newspaper reported.
The winning assault rifle will come equipped with two 5.56mm and 7.62mm caliber interchangeable barrels along with conversion kits, with the 5.56mm option being used in a conventional war fighting role as the barrel will provide longer range, while 7.62mm configuration will be used in counter-terrorism and the counter-insurgency environment, as it will provide troops the capability to fire like AK-56 rifles.