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The Indian Army has released an RFI that is requesting interested companies to submit a proposal for 1500 Anti-Material Rifles (AMR as per Indian Army). The rifles must be in a 12.7mm caliber (x108mm or .50 BMG wasn’t specified) and must weigh lighter than the Army’s current Denel NTW-20 in 20mm/14.5mm. They must be capable of accurately engaging targets out to 1800 meters using “armour piercing incendiary, tracer rounds, sabot light armor penetrator, armor piercing explosive incendiary and high explosive armor piercing incendiary ammunition. In addition, the rifles cannot weigh more than 15 kilograms (33 lb) for a combined weight (we assume this is fully loaded).
The reasons for this new RFI are two-fold- Operational Requirements and legacy replacement. Unfortunately for the Indian Army, the currently fielded Denel NTW-20 number only around 400 out of the original 1000 that were intended for the Army. Due to severe corruption, the remaining 600 couldn’t enter the country and Denel was effectively banned from doing business in India. Thus, the Indian Army has been left without appropriate numbers of anti-material rifles for the previous decade. The Operational Requirement for this RFI is looking for a rifle capable of penetrating bunkers and armored vehicles at long distances. Mostly this OR has to do with the issues the Indian Army faces in Jammu and Kashmir with the insurgency taking a very active stance against the Army. Beyond the cities in the province, the terrain consists of open mountain valleys and forests. This would be ideal employment for a long-range anti-material rifle provided the shooters have proper training.
So far TFB has learned of at least one company that is working on a bid, so it is possible that there may be a number of others interested. One of the specific requirements for international companies that the Indian Army has set forth is that, “them to explain whether they will be ready to offer transfer of technology (ToT) to the Indian industry for licensed manufacturing of the weapons. They have also been asked to whether ToT will be offered for sub-systems”. Unfortunately, I believe this might drive potential international companies with successful anti-material rifles away because of the possibility of the designs being locally produced and used to undercut their own sales.