In my last post "NEW STANDARD ISSUE RIFLE FOR ARMY - THE ENTIRE STORY" (link to post) I discussed how for years army has been trying to induct a new standard issue rifle but has failed due to their inability to stick with the desired requirements they quote, to be true army till now had so much expectations from a standard issue rifle that no single weapon in world could fulfill all their requirements. Also till now army was unable to decide the caliber which it required, at times they wanted one which uses 5.56 mm and then they wanted a gun which can fire a 7.62 mm round & they even tried to induct multi-caliber guns which can fire various caliber rounds by just changing the barrel and upper receiver & wanted the ability to do the change in a few minutes but no weapon was able to fulfill such requirements or pass the stringent tests which IA threw at them as part of trials.
DRDO offered army many options and developed many rifles for army considering the quoted requirements of army. One of the developed gun being "Excalibur" (link) which was provided by DRDO but army was reluctant in testing the weapon till 2014 and when it did, it passed the trials but then army said it was not good enough because it was not lethal enough (5.56 x 45mm) and labelled it not suitable for anti-terror operations as it did not kill terrorist and instead just maimed them. Though army has accepted Excalibur as an interim rifle for the time being but it still is pushing for a different assault rifle and will use Excalibur only till the selection of a new rifle is not completed.
Since army declared that it wanted bigger caliber than the 5.56 it was being thought that the army will issue a request for a 7.62 x 39 mm or at max a 7.62x 45 mm rifle and so DRDO had even began working on a 7.62x45 mm version of the gun.
Now army says it has fixed its requirements once and for all and have issued an RFP/RFI for a 7.62x51 cal assault rifle which is bit odd because not many armies use this as the caliber for standard assault rifles and most of them too don't use them alone ( i.e they use a combination of rifles), currently in this zone Pakistan is the only country which uses 7.62x51 mm H&K G3 rifles.
IMAGES OF RFI- ( EXCLUSIVE )
RFI IMAGES SOURCE- VARIOUS GOVT SITES.
The firms will respond to RFI within next few months (before mid 2017) and then trials of the provided weapon will be done by Army.
MY OPINION ON NEW RFP/RFI-
I personally also believe that stating 5.56x45 caliber rifle as non lethal or less lethal is not right as the same caliber ammunition are used by armed forces around the globe, also our special forces and CT forces actively use IWI TAVORS (and their variants) which use 5.56 mm rounds and the soldiers prefer tavors over AK's because they are more controllable and easy to carry.
Even if the armed forces require a more lethal round like 7.62 why not a more practical 7.62x39 mm as used in AK or at max a 7.62x45 mm round? 7.62x51 mm round in modern warfare is often considered a sniper round and not an assault rifle round.
|5.56x45 VS 7.62x51 mm round|
Another reason why I don't like this move is because the RFP/RFI will be followed by trials and selection and then negotiation and setup of manufacturing line in India (part of RFP/RFI) which will surely take some 4-6 years at fastest rate and this is not a solution as armed forces require the rifles ASAP. Instead of doing all this it would be better if Army works in close proximity with DRDO ARDE etc and develop a gun together as per their needs (army needs to stick to its requirements and DRDO needs to ensure that they are able to guide OFB in quality maintenance).
DRDO has developed lot of guns by now for eg insas, excalibur, kalantak, msmc, ghatak and more and unlike 1980's it has experience and facilities required to make a world class weapon which can fulfill the requirements of our armed forces easily, its just that Army and DRDO need to work closely and give feedback so that their requirements can be met.
Also this 7.62x51 mm thing is not very practical as army's quoted qualities cannot be met by any weapon (even this time) as they want a big weapon which is reliable, lighter, tough and very controllable and this simply is not possible as if such a big round will be fired it will surely have a larger recoil force. Also the weight of such weapon tends to be automatically higher.
Army seriously needs to test various weapons on ground before quoting any requirement because in theory bigger round will surely be more lethal but in real life even a 9 mm or .22 is lethal depending on where it hits (in no way saying that 9 mm is useful for army)