Many Bumps in Defence Ministry’s Attempts to Buy the Right Light Machine Guns

By The Wire

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is evaluating recent trial results in which Israel Weapon Industries (IWIs) Negev NG-7 light machine gun (LMG), fielded by PLR Systems owned by the Adani Group, has emerged as the front runner for the contract to supply the Indian Army (IA) 41,000 LMGs worth over Rs 2,200 crore.

Official sources said the ongoing appraisal of the gas-operated, selective fire 7.62x51mm NG-7’s, following field evaluation trials (FET) at the Infantry School at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh in early April, in which it bested two other models, would soon be completed. IWI is partnering PLR Systems based at Malanpur on Gwalior’s outskirts, in which the Adani Group acquired the majority 51% stake in late 2020; IWI owns the remaining 49%.

The NG-7’s rivals in domestically sourcing the IA’s requirement for 41,000 LMGs included the MG-M25 model from Bulgaria’s Arsenal – on offer from Pune-based Bharat Forge/Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited (KSSL) – and the belt-fed LMG, developed by the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board, or OFB. Anticipating contracts from the Indian military, as well as exports, KSSL had entered into a strategic alliance with Arsenal in early 2020 to locally manufacture small arms and ammunition.

Reliance Armaments Limited, headed by Anil Ambani, too was slated to participate in the LMG trials at Mhow with its self-designed weapon system, with some technical assistance from Czech manufacturers, but failed to do so for unspecified reasons.

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