Earlier this month we reported that India had entered into a major contract with SIG Sauer for procurement of over 70,000 7.62x51mm rifles. SIG Sauer have now confirmed the agreement of a contract reportedly worth $72 million.
SIG Sauer will manufacture 72,400 SIG716 rifles with 16 inch barrels for the Indian Army. The exact configuration of the new rifles has not yet been confirmed, beyonet barrel length, the SIG716 is currently available in patrol and DMR configurations. The rifles will probably be in the patrol rifle configuration in line with the RFI the Indian Army published back February 2018, for 5.5 lakhs (or 550,000) 7.62x51mm assault rifles. While this smaller order for 72,400 rifles does not meet the original RFI figure we know that the Indian Army’s procurement plans have changed a number of times over the last few years.
Here’s SIG Sauer’s statement on the contract in full:
“SIG SAUER, Inc. is pleased to announce the Government of India, Ministry of Defense has officially contracted with SIG SAUER to build and deliver 72,400 SIG716 rifles for its frontline infantry soldiers. The Indian Army, the second largest standing army in the world with more than 1.2 million active troops, is currently undergoing a comprehensive firearms procurement process to advance the capabilities of the Indian Army’s infantrymen.
“This is the first large firearms procurement of the Indian Government in decades, and the explicit mission for this tender was to modernize the infantry troopers of the Indian Army with the best rifle available,” began Ron Cohen, President and CEO, SIG SAUER, Inc. “We competed in an open tender with small arms manufacturers from around the world. The SIG716 rifle underwent a comprehensive and exhaustive testing and evaluation process where it outperformed the competition, and was ultimately chosen, and met all the criteria, as the best rifle to modernize the Indian Army.”
The SIG716 is an enhanced AR platform featuring a 16-inch barrel, M-LOK™ handguard, and a 6-position telescoping stock.
“The global importance of this contract for SIG SAUER is far reaching based on the size, location, and economic strength of India in the global market. We are very proud, and honored that the SIG716 was chosen for use by the fighting forces of the Indian Army, and we are looking forward to developing a strong partnership with India’s Ministry of Defense,” added Cohen.
SIG SAUER will build the SIG716 rifles for the Indian Army in New Hampshire.”
SIG Sauer reportedly beat both Caracal, who submitted the CAR817, and IWI, who submitted the ACE, on price with a per rifle cost of $990. The new rifles will be built in the US and not as part of the Indian government’s ‘Made In India’ scheme, the larger bulk of the rifles needed by the Indian Army and police will likely be fulfilled by this scheme. What exactly will fill that role and enter production in India is not yet known, potentially a modernised AK variant. Indian media have also recently reported that a deal with Caracal for nearly 95,000 5.56x45mm carbines it to be confirmed soon, more on this here.