Indian Army Seeking CQB Carbine

Thales’ EF88 Austeyer
Thales’ EF88 Austeyer.

The Indian Army reissued on 23 September 2022 a request for information (RFI) to identify candidates for Close Quarters Battle (CQB) carbines to be procured from domestic Indian industry.

This procurement program could be considered a restart of 2010 and 2018 efforts which also sought a replacement for the current Sterling 1A1/2 9mm Carbine that has been in service since prior to 1945. Both of the prior programs, including following a three-year evaluation period in the former, were cancelled. In the later the UAE Caracal International CAR816 and Thales Australia F60 were shortlisted but it too was ended.

Caracal International CAR816 Carbine.
Caracal International CAR816 Carbine.

The new RFI calls out a 5.56 x45mm calibre weapon which must have a weight of no more than 3 kg (without magazine) and length of 800 mm or less. It will have a Picatinny accessory rail and use a 30-round magazine. The carbine is intended for primary use against targets up to 200 meters with accuracy to place 90 percent of shots in a 150 X 150 mm group at 100 meters. Firing 2 to round bursts 60 percent of impacts will be within a 240 X 240 mm group. In addition, the weapon must operate at minus 10 to plus 45 degrees C.

The deadline for RFI responses is October 21 with a Request for Proposal
(RfP) to selected vendors anticipated in November 2022. The RFI calls out a potential requirement for 425,213 weapons, though the last prior tender had sought 93,895. The selected industry must be able to provide production weapons within eight months of award. Even with the selection off the RfP in following the Defense Acquisition Procedure 2020 the process to a production contact award could require 24-36 months. In this case new CQB Carbines could reach the field in 2027.

Potential anticipated candidates may include the Caracal CAR816, Kalyani Gp with Thales’ EF88 Austeyer, PLR with Galil ACE, OFB using its own design, SSS Defense’s M72, Jindal Group offering the Brazilian Taurus and Neco Desert Tech an Indian/United States industry joint venture. It might also be possible for more designs to be presented if the offeror commits to establishing a manufacturing base in India. In any case the Army end-users are anxious to see the CQB Carbine move forward.

by Stephen W. Miller