Rashtriya Rifles For Optical Sights On AK-47s

The Indian Army's Rashtriya Rifles (RR) counter-insurgency infantry force is looking to add a modern optical sight to primary assault weapon, the AK-47. A global request for information has been put out to a large list of companies, including Russia's NPO (Novosibirsk) Optics State Corporation, American firms Trijicon and EOTech, Raytheon's Canadian subsidiary Ernst Leitz Canada (ELCAN), Swiss optics major Oerlikon Contraves, Romanian sight major IOR Valdada and British firm United Scientific Instruments (USI) among a few others. The RR has specified that it would prefer an optical sight with a zeroing mechanism and one that is compatible with other small-arms without modification.

Recent reports suggest -- and this is corroborated by the Army's own RFI from earlier this year -- that the INSAS rifle is creating a great deal of disenchantment in the infantry. The Army had therefore put out a global RFI earlier this year for a "modern assault rifle" of "any calibre". Technical evaluations of the bidders is expected to begin in October with the Americans, Israelis, Belgians and Russians looking with supreme interest at the prospect of selling India hundreds, potentially thousands, of assault rifles or, at the very least, the technology to build them locally. Yet another upgrade study for the INSAS, on the hand, is underway. It would, of course, be far preferable, if the Ordnance Factory and DRDO could pull up their socks and concertedly pull the INSAS up to the standards that the Army wants, rather than force the government to thoughtlessly squander even more money on small arms from foreign vendors, if that is, indeed, necessary.

Photo by Shiv Aroor / RR Soldier on Jammu-Srinagar Highway, C. 2004

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