New Delhi: Indian small arms firm SSS Defence has defeated Israeli firm Fab Defense, also known as Zahal, to bag a contract to upgrade a limited number of Kalashnikov rifles with a unit of the Indian Special Forces, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that the Bengaluru-based SSS emerged as the lowest bidder for the tender for upgrading 24 AK-47 rifles in service with a particular unit.
“This is the first time when an Indian company, with its own indigenous design and product, will upgrade a rifle for the Indian Army,” a source said.
Till now, Fab Defense had a monopoly in the Indian market over the upgrade of AK-47s in service with the Army. Different units of the Army have been upgrading their Kalashnikovs to suit modern warfare and Fab Defense has managed to upgrade a few thousand rifles over the last decade.
Sources also pointed out that until now, all the materials needed for upgrades were imported, and the SSS contract could actually open up room for more such deals with a focus on indigenous products.
What the upgrade will bring
The sources said the upgrade would entail a new foldable butt stock for the rifle, a new dust cover that will allow mounting of sights, and changes to the fore end, which will allow mounting of a bipod or a knife when needed, besides hand guard and vertical grip.
Sources said SSS has also offered to upgrade the rifle with a flash hider at no extra cost, since it was not part of the requirements issued by the particular unit of the Army.
Interestingly, while all upgrades by Fab Defense involved parts made of polymer, SSS Defence is offering aerospace alloys, sources said.
As reported by ThePrint, the company is also eyeing a possible contract from the Army for the upgrade of the legendary Dragunov sniper rifle, commonly known in the armed forces as DSR.
The Northern Command has come out with a Request for Proposal for the upgrade of 90 pieces of the nearly three-decade-old rifle, but overall, the Army is estimated to have anywhere between 6,000-7,000 pieces of the DSR.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)