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By Bulbul Singh

22 Oct 10. The Indian Army has embarked on a fast track weapons purchase spree off-the-shelf from overseas countries, particularly from Europe, to meet the requirements of the Special Forces, which have increased to 20000 from only 5000 troops in the past five years. The Indian Army is to increase the lethality and range of the special forces in order that they are able to carry out operations swifly over longer distances.

“The purchases being made are just part of the total purchases to be made in the next six months to one year,” said a senior Indian Army official.

A senior Indian Army delegation is negotiating purchases of varieties of weaponry and has held talks with Brugger & Thomet AG at Thun in Switzerland, Heckler & Koch in Oberndorf, Germany, Israeli and Finnish defence companies.

The purchase list includes sniper rifles, varieties of carbines, body armour, anti-material rifles, laser rangefinders, light clothing and other small arms. An Army delegation is also visiting Finland to negotiate for the Finnish bolt-action SAKO TRG-22/24.

An Indian Army officer said the requirements include modular weapon systems which would have the capability to reconfigure the weapon from one variant to another to meet the changing mission requirements. The variants would include Carbine/micro assault rifle, assault rifle and light machine gun. Besides, an Individual Rifle Integrated Sight (IRIS) would feature thermal imager, a television channel, visible and invisible laser pointer

Apart from the current small and medium arms purchases being made from Europe and other countries, the Indian Army wish list includes purchase of light combat vehicles, all-terrain utility vehicles, small laser-guided weapons, Global Positioning System gear, digital cameras and remote detonating devices.

In addition to equipping the Special Forces, the Indian Army will also embark on buying special equipment to arm the additional 15000 mountain troops India has raised to be deployed along the Chinese border.

Purchases for these mountain troops will also have to be done on fast track basis, without international competition, in the next one to two years.

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