New Delhi: The Indian Army will place an order for only 250,000 modern assault rifles — just a third of its total requirement — driven by budgetary constraints and the need to speed up deliveries, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
The 1.3 million-strong military pruned its original requirement for 800,000 rifles, which would have cost $2.5 billion, to prioritise spending and advance the purchase of more up-to-date equipment, the person said, asking not to be identified as the information is not yet public.
The defence force has 450,000 infantry troopers, of whom only half go into ground battle and use the rifle as their primary weapon. The rest are support soldiers, the person said.
The moves are part of Prime Minister Narendra Modis $250 billion push to modernise Indias armed forces, as infantry continue to face the brunt of deadly attacks in disputed border areas such as Kashmir and the Northeast.
Plans to buy new equipment from overseas, however, have been held back by bureaucratic delays and the militarys desire to balance the needs of its troops against efforts to build equipment domestically under Modis Make in India program, a key plank in his drive to boost local manufacturing.