New Delhi: India needs to be self-reliant in manufacturing small arms, even as the armed forces' urgent requirements are being currently met through imports, Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chief of Staffs Committee (CISC), said on Thursday.
He expressed hope that the defence manufacturing would be more competitive with private companies in the fray, and said the ongoing reforms in defence procurement process should give an opportunity to the "OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to partner with the Indian companies to enter this (small arms) market".
"While we have imports taking place to meet our current and urgent requirements, self-reliance in this sector is fundamentally necessary for the nation in the long run.
It is essential that the basic weapons are manufactured here," Kumar said addressing the International Conference on Small Arms here.
"To modernize the small arms inventory, the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) is also developing a new assault rifle with the ammunition being developed by the ARDE (Armament Research and Development Establishment) and we hope that this would be ready for trial soon," he noted.
A case for fast-track procurement of assault rifle for the frontline troops is in progress, he said, adding at the same time, a "major development" is the joint venture with Russia with the production of 6.7 lakh AK-203 rifles in Amethi.
"We need to achieve self-reliance in this basic military capability to provide the frontline troops with contemporary weapons. We need to make this happen for the Make in India initiative as articulated by our honourable prime minister," Kumar stated.