The guns being procured for the soldiers are the Italian-made .338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT by Beretta, and the US-made .50 Calibre M95 by Barrett.
New Delhi: Indian soldiers along the Line of Control are set to get deadly new sniper rifles, including an anti-material rifle that can go through concrete and metal objects, such as vehicles. The procurement process is expected to be completed this month.
While the Army is in need of about 5,000 sniper rifles, the priority was to equip the Northern Command, which looks after the crucial LoC and some part of the Line of Actual Control with China.
The guns being given to the soldiers are the .338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT by Beretta, and the .50 Calibre M95 by Barrett. These snipers will replace the ageing Russian Dragunov, the mainstay of Indian soldiers.
Army Headquarters has already floated a plan to procure 5,000 sniper rifles for the entire force, a limited number of guns are being bought through the emergency purchase power of the Northern Commander.
Why the new rifles
Sources say formations at the LoC felt the need to go in for superior sniper rifles as the dynamic in the region has changed.
The Pakistan Army has resorted to sniping in a big way to hit at soldiers guarding the LoC. Many times, soldiers have been hit even in their own posts, besides being targeted when they are out patrolling.
Even though the Indian Army has retaliated in equal terms, the need was felt for more modern and deadlier sniper rifles.
What’s special about the new rifles?
The US-made Barrett M95 is an anti-material rifle which has a range of a whopping 1,800 metres.
The gun, which is in use with many special forces around the world, is a bolt action sniper rifle chambered in a .50 Browing Machine Gun cartridge (12.7×99mm).
With an unloaded gun weighing about 10 kg, the M95 first came out way back in 1995, and is part of the Barrett M82 family, the first notable American made .50 Caliber anti-material rifles introduced in 1982.
The gun feeds from a five-round detachable box magazine and is a more compact and lighter version than earlier products.
The other gun that will be available to the troops along the LoC is the Victrix Armaments .338 Lapua Magnum Scorpio TGT, owned by Italian firm Beretta.
The Scorpio TGT uses the .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6×70mm or 8.58×70mm), a rimless, bottlenecked, centre-fire rifle cartridge.
It was developed in the 1980s as a high-powered, long-range cartridge for military snipers. It was used in the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War.
Although the .338 Lapua Magnum was initially developed to penetrate body armour at 1,000 metres, it has been used effectively to 1,500 metres and beyond, and holds the distinction of being part of some of the record-breaking sniper shots in war.
At least 30 countries use the .338 Lapua Magnum sniper rifles and over a dozen manufacturers produce guns, in multiple configurations, in this calibre.