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Anil Ambani’s Reliance firm still not ready to showcase LMG for Army, trials delayed again

The Anil Ambani group is one of the contenders for the project along with Bharat Forge of the Kalyani Group, Adani Group’s PLR systems and the Ordnance Factory Board.

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New Delhi: The much-awaited Army trials for nearly 41,000 light machine guns (LMGs), under the Make in India initiative, has been delayed again as Reliance Armament of Anil Ambani has sought more time to showcase its weapon, ThePrint has learnt.

While trials for the 7.62X51 mm belt-fed LMGs were to begin from 22 February, they have now been postponed to April due to Reliance Armament. The new LMGs are to replace the 5.56x45mm INSAS LMG, which is a derivative of the INSAS assault rifle.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said this is not the first time that Reliance has sought an extension. Sources said Reliance Armament wrote to the Army in February seeking more time to showcase the weapon, which the company says is an indigenous one.

A questionnaire sent to Reliance Defence remained unanswered at the time of filing this report. 

The Anil Ambani group is one of the contenders for the project along with Bharat Forge of the Kalyani Group, Adani Group’s PLR systems and the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

The Bengaluru-based SSS Defence, which was one of the original contenders, is understood to have pulled out of the trials as it wants to focus on sniper and the carbines contract.


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Reliance also tight-lipped about partner 

While Reliance has been tight-lipped about who it has tied up with for the contract, it is learnt that a South Korean firm could be in the picture. 

Reliance is also said to be working on multiple vendor options, including American and European manufacturers.

Reliance Infrastructure’s annual report for 2019-20 stated that the group has established multiple companies such as Reliance Armaments Ltd, Reliance Ammunition Ltd and Reliance SED to cater to the specific requirements of small arms, ammunition and defence electronics.

It had also said that Reliance Armament has received RFPs (Requests for Proposal) for LMGs, sniper rifles and other small programmes with the Ministry of Home Affairs valued at over Rs 6,000 crore over many years.

Of the other contenders for the LMG project, Bharat Forge has tied up with Bulgarian firm Arsenal, while the OFB has come out with an indigenous product. 

Adani Group’s PLR systems is a joint venture with the Israel Weapons Industry (IWI) and they are fielding the Negev NG-7.

The IWI already has a fast-tracked procurement contract from the Army for about 16,000 of these Negev NG-7 and the first tranche has already reached soldiers in the Northern Command.

The Army contract, however, is directly with IWI and not with the Indian joint venture, which now manufactures various Israeli weapons at its Gwalior plant.


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Final contract will take time

Even if the trial does take place on time, sources said that a final contract will be delayed. This is because the RFP allows any Indian company to present a product for trials.

If the weapon is selected, the Indian company will be given 18 months for Transfer of Technology (ToT) from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and for the setting up of a production plant in India.

Once the plant is set up, the company will manufacture 10 serial production LMGs, which will be tested by the Army again to see if it fits the bill as the original. 

It is not clear if the second round of trial planned will be as stringent as the first, which itself is yet to start.

Industry sources told ThePrint that the frontrunner for the LMG contract is PLR systems because its parent IWI already has a contract with the Army and the firm has a running production plant in Gwalior, which has started supplying various small arms to central armed police forces and the state police. 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)


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With inputs from Remya Nair.

 

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Anil Ambani IS A FRAUDSTER AND A CORRUPT CROOKED PERSON.
    HE SHOULD BE IN JAIL FOR SPOILING INDIANS IMAGE.

  2. Why should India’s defence preparedness be tied down to someone who is bankcrupt like Anil Ambani? Pull the plug on him.

  3. Is this the same Anil Ambani that dclared bankruptcy in UK Court ? What the eff he is doing in business, he has no credit .Send him to China.

  4. Unbelieveble, just Unbelievable…..why the hell not fast track the entire 41.000 LMG acquisition, since 16,000 LMGs are already on order???

    It will turn out to be cheaper than all these “song and dance sequences” to be conducted over 3-4 years.

  5. Whatever he touched exploded and turned into dust.. So no doubt, skill set matches the NEW profession.

  6. Of course we can wait for Ambani, no problem if army is screwed, for a fair procedure we need both Ambani and Adani . Hum do Hamare Do. Demonetisation was not for black money, it screwed up MSME businesses, “Hamare DO”profited . Electoral Bonds is black money for “Hum Do”

  7. Anil Ambani’s reliance owes thousands of crores to Indian small time investors. He cheated the Indian public by borrowing huge sums of money and defaulted repayments of principle and interest. He prayed before British court that he is a recluse and nothing to eat and he is on the roads. He is living on the mercy of his wife. It is a blatant lie and he is leading a luxorious life in India. A person who is not truthful and lies at his will is not fit to be called a gentle man. How the government is entrusting sensitive defence deals to such a fraduster. He should be banned to do any business in the country. The poor investors in his companys ate crying for justice and are on the roads.

  8. Notwithstanding the failed billion dollar enterprise, this company was given a front row seat among other competitors. Yet it had great success in failing again.

    Considering long complex often delayed defense procurements having operation and strategic implications, this company is a no go.

    Failing to demo a product on time speaks loudly about its incompetence.

    Bharat forge and OFB have capability with capacity and larger footprint. This is a business with strategic national interest and room for failure is less than minimal.

    Time to move on to next phase waiting for none.

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