With sniping posing a major operational challenge for Indian troops along the 778-km long Line of Control (LC) with Pakistan and the adversary\'s soldiers equipped with modern Remington modular sniper rifles, the Indian Army has gone in for an emergency purchase of a very small number of advanced sniper rifles, with longer ranges as well as modern telescopic sights.
The new sniper rifles – Beretta\'s .338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT and Barett\'s .50-calibre M95 guns – with an effective range from 1,500 to 1,800 metres, are being purchased under the Northern Army Commander\'s Special Financial Powers in the Buy Global category. The ammunition for these will be initially procured from abroad; subsequently it will be manufactured in India.
There will be licensed manufacture of five million rounds of .338 Lapua Magnum ammunition under a transfer of technology to India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board and private-sector manufacturers.
The larger "capital procurement" of 5,719 new 8.6mm sniper rifles to equip all the 382 infantry battalions in the over 12-lakh strong Army - each unit is authorized 10 sniper rifles - will, however, take another two years.
Last December, Ministry of Defence (MoD) had invited responses from global manufacturers to its request for proposals (RFP) for 5,719 8.6 mm sniper rifles and 10.2 million rounds of ammunition for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force in a deal worth $ 150 million.
Terrorists belonging to the Jasih-e-Mohammad (JeM) had hit at four separate locations in Kashmir using sniper rifles in September and October 2018. They had mounted the US M-4 carbine (also used by the Pakistan Army) with a telescope and night vision devices were used to locate potential targets. The weapon can fire with precision at a target from 600 metres.
Currently, Indian infantry soldiers are equipped with Russian-origin 7.62mm Dragunov semi-automatic sniper rifles of 1960s design, with a kill range of 800 metres. In the absence of Picatinny rails, the Dragunov rifles are also incompatible with several modern essential accessories like magnification and sight systems. The Dragunov sniper rifle, which uses 7.62×54-MMR cartridge acquired from Russia in early 1990s.
The Army\'s Para-Special Forces units, however, are equipped with advanced sniper rifles like Israeli Galils and are also getting long-range Finnish Sako sniper rifles, which have a kill range of around 2,400-metre.