SIG Sauer, an American firearm manufacturer, won India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) competition for the Indian Army’s next rifle with its SIG716 G2 rifle. The SIG716 G2 is chambered in the 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge and features a 16-inch barrel, an M-LOM-type handguard, and a six-position telescoping stock. It comes with a 20-round magazine. The India Army will purchase 72,400 rifles, all of which will be manufactured in SIG Sauer’s New Hampshire facility.
Ron Cohen, the president and CEO of SIG, said, “This is the first large firearms procurement of the Indian government in decades, and the explicit mission for this tender was to modernize the infantry troopers of the Indian Army with the best rifle available. We competed in an open tender with small-arms manufacturers from around the world. The SIG716 rifle underwent a comprehensive and exhaustive testing and evaluation process where it outperformed the competition, and was ultimately chosen, and met all the criteria, as the best rifle to modernize the Indian Army.”
One of SIG Sauer’s main competitors was the Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI), an Indian firearms manufacturer that has been supplying the Indian military with small arms weapons since the country’s independence in 1947.
For decades, the Indian Army has been using the Insas 5.56mm rifle. That rifle was deemed outdated and ineffective following the 2016 terrorist attack at an Indian Army base in Uri, Kashmir. During the attack, four jihadi terrorists from the Jaish-e-Mohammed group, which has been receiving considerable support from the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) and has had ties with al-Qaeda, stormed the Army camp and killed 19 soldiers. The after action report (AAR) concluded that one of the reasons the Indian soldiers weren’t able to neutralize the attackers quickly was the limited lethality of their rifles. As a result, the Indian Army launched a competition for a new rifle.
“The global importance of this contract for SIG Sauer is far reaching based on the size, location, and economic strength of India in the global market. We are very proud, and honored that the SIG716 was chosen for use by the fighting forces of the Indian Army, and we are looking forward to developing a strong partnership with India’s Ministry of Defense,” added Cohen.
Given the likely battlefields for the Indian Army—that is, the regions bordering Pakistan and China, which are mountainous—the increased velocity and range of the SIG716 G2 will come in handy.