Indian companies to make foreign assault rifles, sniper guns under JV for export

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In a few years, assault and sniper rifles used by military and elite special forces in the US and the UK and a few other western countries will have a ‘Made in India’ tag. Some of the best assault rifles and small arms used will be manufactured at plants, including in Chennai, as private component makers have signed agreements with foreign arms manufacturers.

More than five Indian companies had displayed their plans and the JVs at the DefExpo 2018 at Thiruvidanthai. And amidst the giant arms manufacturers who peddled supersonic missiles to smart fighter planes to electronic warfare software, these gunmakers who had set up smaller stalls caught the most attention.

The rifles and ammunition, far advanced than weapons used by the Indian Army, will be made at plants that will be set up under transfer of technology for export to the clients of the foreign partner. And officials say it would take a long time for these weapons to be inducted into the Indian Army because procurement procedures are cumbersome.

The small arms, assault rifles and sniper rifles manufactured by Desert Tech of USA, Lewis Machine & Tool Company and Steyr Mannlicher of Austria will be made here by their Indian partners.Anand Jayaswal, managing director, Neco Desert Tech Defence, a joint venture company floated by Indian company Neco and Desert Tech, said: “We have formed the JV company to make the rifles under transfer of technology. The government of India has given the licence one-and-a-half months ago. The company will start production of assault rifles in the next few months.”

The rifles are used by special forces of Czech Republic, UAE, Lithuania, Thailand and a few other countries.

Satish Machani, managing director, Stumpp Schule & Somappa, said the joint venture was in place with Lewis Machine & Tool Company (LMT) of USA for making rifles and CBC of Brazil for making ammunition. “We have applied for a licence. Once that comes through, the company is ready to start production by this year itself. CBC is world’s second largest ammunition maker and is planning to shift its entire line to India. The ammunition will be exported,” he said.

Machani said the guns were being used in the US, the UK and New Zealand and as per the current plan it would be manufactured in Bengaluru while ammunition would be made in Chennai. A representative of the foreign partner said the rifles that would be made here would be exported to countries in the Middle East and South East Asia.

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