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Army puts out tender for 30k ‘night sights’ so its US-made assault rifles can aim better in dark

While an open tender has been issued for procurement of the optical instruments, Bengaluru-based firm Tonbo Imaging, whose services the Army has previously used, is a frontrunner.

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New Delhi: A year after inducting them, the Indian Army is now looking at procuring 30,000 night sights for its American SiG Sauer assault rifles, the primary weapon that soldiers posted along the borders with China and Pakistan use.

Night sights are optical instruments attached to assault rifles to improve visibility in the dark.

The Army is looking at a minimum detection range of 600 metres for a single person walking and a minimum 500 metre-range for someone standing, as part of the requirements it has sent out to the Indian defence firms.

The bidder must train personnel with using the night sight for assault rifles. These soldiers include 11 batches of 127 Infantry personnel, with each batch training for six working days.

“The Ministry of Defence, Government of India, intends to procure quantity 29,762 Night Sight (II) for 7.62 x 51 mm Assault Rifles along with accessories for each Assault Rifles [Lens Cover, Eye Guard, Cleaning Kit, Battery Pack Charger and quantity 03 Sets of Batteries (each set of batteries corresponds to No of batteries required to operate the Sight)],” a request for proposal (RFP) issued by the Army said.

The Army has also asked for nights sight with a zeroing arrangement, “an adjustable illuminated Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) reticle pattern that enables engagement of human target upto 500m” as well as built-in autogating.

Bengaluru firm Tonbo Imaging is frontrunner

The deadline for bid submissions is slated for 27 September. The product offered by Indian firms should have at least 50 per cent indigenous content.

Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that while this is an open tender, the frontrunner is Bengaluru-based firm Tonbo Imaging, whose services the Army had previously used for “specialised sighting” emergency procurement.

As reported by ThePrint earlier, Tonbo Imaging has exported sighting and other systems to numerous countries, including Israeli and French special forces.

The Army had also made it clear that the life cycle of night sights should not be less than 10,000 hours of operation or 10 years.

When the Army had bought the American SiG Sauer assault rifles, the night sights were not procured to keep the costs down. This effectively made the rifle “almost blind” when operating in the dark.

As “jugaad”, the Army started using its already existing sight systems on the SiG 716, ThePrint had previously reported. Some of these sight systems have night vision capabilities and are manufactured by both state-run and private Indian firms.

“The existing sight systems do the trick. While it is not completely compatible with the firing system, it is much better than not having one. With a little bit of training, the soldier is able to shoot directly even in the dark,” a source had told ThePrint in July 2021.

With inputs from Snehesh Alex Philip

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