The Indian website ThePrint.in reports from New Delhi that in a boost to the fledgling domestic small arms industry, two of the latest Israeli assault rifles — the Arad and the Carmel — are set to be manufactured in India. The assault weapons are to be produced under the ‘Make in India’ initiative in Madhya Pradesh, where a plant was set up in 2017 by Israel Weapons System (IWI) in a joint venture called PLR Systems.
The joint venture is aiming for contracts from the Special Forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force besides the central armed police forces and the state police, sources said. "The plan is now to manufacture the Arad and Carmel, which are the latest offering from the IWI, in India through the joint venture,” a source with knowledge of the developments said. The sources said unlike in other cases where Make in India is based on orders from the country, PLR Systems is manufacturing the arms in India and then offering them for trials. The company has already delivered various units to forces under the Home Ministry and the plan is now to offer the Carmel and Arad. The sources said the joint venture is also looking at export of the products it manufactures in India.
While Punj Llyod Group originally held 51 per cent shares in the joint venture, it was bought out by a company called Fouraces System India Private Limited with the Indian conglomerate facing debt issues. PLR systems, now run by Col. Ajay Soni, already manufactures a number of small arms like the Tavor series, the mainstay of the special forces, in India along with others like the Galil sniper rifle, the Uzi Pro submachine gun, the Masada pistol and the Negev Light Machine Gun (LMG) with indigenous content ranging from 40-60 percent.
Last year, the Army awarded a contract to American company Sig Sauer for 72,400 units of the 7.62x51mm assault rifle, the SIG 716, under a Fast Track Process (FTP) after a long quest to replace its INSAS rifles. The new rifles are to be used by frontline troops. The Army has also selected the AK 203, a 7.62x39mm rifle, to be built in India under a joint venture between state-run OFB and Russian Kalashnikov Rifles, for the rest of the force. Israel Defense reported on July 15 that the Indian Army is planning to place another order for 72,000 SIG716 assault rifles made by Sig Sauer. Several days later, on July 19, Israel Defense reported that India could decide soon to purchase almost 94,000 CAR 816 carbines made in the UAE to replace aging 9mm British Sterling 1A1 submachine guns.
IWI did not respond to a request to comment on the manufacturing of the Arad and the Carmel in India.