Para Special Forces gets more firepower in form of indigenously upgraded AK-47


Bengaluru based SSS Defence recently won a contract for upgradation of AK 47 rifles to the Indian Army’s Para Special Forces unit under South Western Command and has completed delivery of its Proprietary upgrade kits.

The closure of supply marked a key turning point in that SSS Defence has for the first time replaced an incumbent Israeli supplier – FAB Defence. The order was very small, however, with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis; SSS Defence is expected to get a larger contract to upgrade the large number of Kalashnikov rifles in service.

Industry observers predict that the success of homegrown tech will only spur more startup’s and established OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to venture into the area since India continues to rank among the largest importers of infantry systems.

The upgrade of these Russian AK-47 assault rifles has been done using SOPMOD (Special Operations Peculiar Modification) package from the house of SSS Defence which had undergone tests carried out with the Indian Army Para Special Forces under the South Western Command. The Indian company was competing with an Israeli FAB Defense Company.

According to the company, the upgrade kit package included rugged dust cover, a new gas tube, quad rail fore-end and a flash suppressor. The flash suppressor allows an optic to be mounted along the full length rail along with an under-barrel grenade launcher (UBGL) on the bottom rail. Also the package included a new tactical butt stock, and no need for external locking mechanism.

The package recoils significantly, and it also helps in reducing ‘pull up to the right’ traditional to the AK system, the company had said.

Based on the information in the public domain, the Special Forces of the Indian Army use a mix of frontline assault weapons — M4A1s, TAR-21s and other rifles.

Indigenization in the Indian Army

The Indian army and paramilitary have been trying to modernise their arsenal and several programs are underway. The Indian army has a requirement for Close Quarter Battle (CQB) carbines, long range sniper rifles, and a portfolio of Special Forces weapons and a host of ammunition calibers.

Para military and state police forces are aiming to upgrade to modern day sub machine guns, pistols, sniper rifles and carbines. Having indigenous products to serve these requirements is a major advantage since it ensures that technological shifts and geopolitical developments don’t interfere with the sustenance of training and missions that our forces have to undertake.

Among subject matter experts there is unanimity that a country that does not have its own proprietary products in bread and butter weapons and ammunition is bound to be exploited by global arms lobbies. Supply dislocations that are currently the norm owing to war in the Russia – Ukraine theatre are a case in point. Sources admit to a severe shortage of raw materials, components and end products, all of which are cause for concern when our own neighbourhood has its fault lines and China is fast militarizing with a tremendous scale of arms manufacturing.

Indigenization in the context of the Indian armed forces has been a buzzword amongst mandarins at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), OEM – both traditional and new age and defence enthusiasts.

“Though progress has been made in recent years, however, as a nation we need to own intellectual property in multiple systems,” said a senior officer on condition of anonymity.

Adding, “The INSAS rifle has been a mainstay of the armed forces but has been plagued by inefficiencies, manufacturing quality concerns and limited upgrades over several decades. With the MoD encouraging private industry to enter the space and the issuance of industrial licenses to several companies in the past few years, efforts have indeed been made to let industry make up for lost time.”

Which Firearms Companies are involved in the indigenization journey?

Among the firms that have taken up an interest in this space are PLR/Adani, SSS Defence and Jindal Defence.

PLR/Adani is a JV with IWI from Israel and has been manufacturing some specific systems via Transfer of Technology. IWI manufactures the Tavor assault rifle and the Galil, a designated marksman rifle, both of which are in service. IWI also won a contract for supply of the Negev light machine guns. PLR/Adani is to be IWI’s venture for supply of India manufactured products in the future.

Jindal Defence has a JV with Taurus Arms from Brazil and intends to commence production soon, again with ToT. The JV is focused on manufacturing high quality handguns including pistols and revolvers.

As reported earlier, SSS Defence based in Bengaluru is a 100% Indian owned company and has forged a different path vis a vis competitors. The firm has been working on creating its own Intellectual Property in this domain. The company has its own portfolio of India designed and manufactured sniper rifles, assault weapons, carbines and legacy upgrades.

(With inputs from agencies)


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