Private companies to arm police with modern weapons - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 31 December 2009

Private companies to arm police with modern weapons

(Adding muscle to Indian policing)

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 1st Jan 10

With the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) having failed to procure modern rifles and carbines for its state and central policemen from the international market, it is now looking to India’s private sector for providing police forces the weaponry needed to respond to Mumbai-style terror attacks.

On 21st December, the MHA promulgated a draft Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Policy, which will allow the DIPP to issue licences to large private companies, which are capable of producing advanced weapons, and of investing over Rs 50 crores, for manufacturing arms and ammunition to be “primarily supplied to Central Para Military Forces, Defence and State Governments on tendering basis…” The draft policy stipulates an FDI cap of 26% on companies applying for licences.

The MHA had initially looked towards foreign suppliers for replacing the outdated weaponry of 15 lakh state policemen and 7.5 lakh jawans of the Central Police Organisations (BSF, CRPF, CISF, etc). It was envisaged that global suppliers like Singapore Technologies Kinetic (STK) and Israel Military Industries (IMI) would partner the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to produce modern rifles and carbines in India for the military and the police. That plan was stymied when STK and IMI were blacklisted by the MoD after the arrest last May of Sudipta Ghosh, the former OFB chief, on charges of corruption.

Nor was it possible for the MHA to procure weapons from the Defence Ministry’s suppliers, the two ordnance factories at Ishapore and Kanpur. With an annual production capacity of just 100,000 rifles, these factories barely met the annual replacement requirement of India’s 17 lakh soldiers, sailors and airmen.

With the foreign and PSU options foreclosed, now the private sector is being invited to pick up the slack. There are already 95 private companies with decades-old licences to manufacture arms, but those small companies are licensed to manufacture only shotguns of the kind used by bank guards and for hunting. The MHA, however, needs rifles and carbines, which can be aimed to longer ranges and are capable of automatic fire, i.e. emitting a continuous stream of bullets when the trigger is pressed.

For the private sector, this is déjà vu. In 2001, after a cabinet decision to allow the private sector into defence manufacture, the DIPP (vide Press Note No 4 of 2001) had permitted private companies to manufacture defence equipment, including arms and ammunition, subject to an FDI cap of 26%. Large industrial houses interested in defence manufacture, including Larsen & Toubro and Mahindra Defence Systems, had applied and obtained Letters of Intent (LoIs) for manufacturing several categories of defence equipment, including small arms (pistols, rifles, machine guns and carbines) and ammunition.

But in 2006-07, when Larsen & Toubro sought a formal manufacturing licence from the government, the MHA insisted that no licences be granted for small arms and ammunition. The reason, as the draft policy obliquely admits, was the MHA’s wish “to ensure total non-proliferation”; North Block apprehended that extremists might siphon off weaponry from private production units.

Now, clearly, that apprehension has been trumped by the urgent need for modern weaponry. The MHA, however, still intends to strictly control the grant of licences for manufacturing arms and ammunition; the draft policy stipulates that applications “may be considered by DIPP as per procedure in consultation with MHA.”

Manufacturing world-class arms and ammunition will be a challenge for Indian private companies, involving as it does expensive and closely guarded technologies. Admitting that a foreign partner would be essential, an industry source said, “Small arms manufacture is as much an art as an industrial process. We will have to tie up with a foreign partner like, perhaps, Heckler & Koch. An FDI cap of 26% means that they will be reluctant to transfer crucial technologies; we may be limited to licensed manufacture.”

[The draft policy has been put up for public comments on the MHA website ( Comments are to be submitted by 6th January 2010.]


  1. I remember reading your article on the SAR-21 and Zitara and how serious SKT was about tying up with the OFB. Why can't the MHA cite the example of the Defence Ministry in allowing these tainted companies to compete for the 155mm guns and let them renegotiate the carbine deals?

  2. Subsidiaries of Singapore Technologies have provided and are providing Homeland Security Consultancy Services to a number of countries and their relevant governmental agencies, where on quite a few occasions, there is an elevated threat of terrorist attacks. The value add lies not in the provision of engineering services to interface with human security. It is in the contingency response planning and ensuring a right mix of human and technology resources to address a security need.

    I hope that India's approach to hiring local Indian companies will be as sophisticated and that it is not an attempt to just push private armed security just for a presence purpose. Privatization must be tied to a government master security plan. From your article, I sense ambivalence. Please clarify further on the role of Indian governmental leadership in this initiative.

  3. its ok to let Indian private companies make small arms.

    But the main issue is the number they produce, and if they get permission to export.

    This is only way we can have pvt co manufacture small arms. Weapons like the uzi, shotgun are urgently needed to replace the WWII .303 which most of the time doesnt work.

    A small arms SEZ type of thing, wit tight security, will be the best idea to stop siphoning of weapons.

    As for MHA apprehension that they will siphone off guns, they should however remember that during 1971 naxalite striff guns were siphoned out of Ichapore factory itself.

  4. Wah, the great Indian tamasha continues. Thanks for the extensive report, Ajai ji.
    Any idea which weapon our Babu's are looking at to arm our forces with? From what I figured, its a series of weapons ranging from AR's to CQB weapons. Btw, is the assembly line at OFB Trichy still open? They used to make SLR's if I remember right.
    Last heard the AK series rifles were set to sweep the landscape. Tavor or SAR-21 as standard issue weapon for the constabulary seems way too expensive and unnecessary.
    Ajai ji, the INSAS has proved its worthiness in battle and is a rugged,formidable rifle in its class.
    A good number of SLR's and INSAS rifles equip at least 2/3'rds of our CPO's. Do they really need to be replaced? Aside, after all the hoopla that was created around the MSMC, any clue as to its current status?
    There was also talk of Excalibur or Kalantak replacing AR's in our CPO's. Are the project's scrapped in favor of a "phoren" rifle ? I did hear rumors that Kalantak was scrapped.

    The SAR-21 from what I heard, does not live up to its expectations. The Tavor has only recently overcome most of its known glitches.
    The reasons for rejecting private participation is totally ridiculous. Gun factories in UP and Bihar are already churning out AK clones though they lack the volumes. Mercies..

  5. Very sarcastic of you to put the put first photo and comment as well(adding muscle one)!But not in good taste!

  6. Sir,

    What about body armor?

    what good is an personnel without body armor?

    Without body armor we might as well go naked to fight the terrorists.

  7. "The SAR-21 from what I heard, does not live up to its expectations".

    Rubbish. Please go test fire a SAR-21 before spewing more rubbish.

    (i) US police departments and Swat teams have purchased SAR-21s(see:

    (ii) Read what Jane's says about SAR-21 (See:

    (iii) Did you also know that in Popular Mechanics Top 5 guns, the SAR-21 is the only bullpup selected and not the Tavor? (See:

  8. MHA’s wish "to ensure total non-proliferation".

    Thanks that explains it all.


  9. By the looks of it they should increase capacity at the Rifle Factories or set up new Factories, why create more opportunity fr more corruption. All these private companies will end up playing games with the 'Babus' more pilferage of tax payer money. Weapons like the Ak-7/101/103, Folded Insas, Minsas and MSMC are good enough for State Police units. If they can produce 500,000 rifles a year, should be good enough. For Central paramilitary, Army and SF units, Govt. can simply license manufacture weapons like ACR, XCR, KRISS, M-4 Grendel & Beowulf 6.5mm/.50 cal, .50cal/.416 cal Sniper rifles etc.

  10. About the 'adding muscle' joke, here is an excerpt from the movie Fight club, about skinny guys:

    Tyler Durden: OK: any historic figure.

    Narrator: I'd fight Gandhi.

    Tyler Durden: Good answer.

    Narrator: How about you?

    Tyler Durden: Lincoln.

    Narrator: Lincoln?

    Tyler Durden: Big guy, big reach. Skinny guys fight 'til they're burger.

  11. they can buy weapons from foreign private companies but cannot allow Indian companies to build them for India! then how they will get money for their swiis account?

    BTW where is the fgfa article? we cant wait any more. need some pics of real LCH from HAL as well. ;-)

  12. ajai sir

    these guys r talking abt micro tavor, AK series, INSAS, SAR 21 but if this article is mainly directed at our police forces then first of we need rubber bullets and guns to fire them, stun gun pepper spray, bullet proof jackets (not like the ones ATF chief Karkare was wearing), and other safety gear. Also required r special issue weapons like corner shot guns to counter terrorists or hijackers.

  13. "For Central paramilitary, Army and SF units, Govt. can simply license manufacture weapons like ACR, XCR, KRISS, M-4 Grendel & Beowulf 6.5mm/.50 cal, .50cal/.416 cal Sniper rifles etc."

    For internal security purposes, there are restrictions on the type of ammo used due to concern with overpenetration risks and addressed via the use of frangible rounds (see:

    Below is a video of how 6 SIR (a non-elite army unit) is trained for internal security purposes and how they augment civilian security measures. This unit exists to repel attacks at key installations and to provide perimeter security for the elite units to follow in a terrorist attack. (see: )

  14. I got an industry insider to comment on the draft that was published here or

    One key issue they brought out is that private sector companies that are licensed to manufacture these (Max Aerospace & Punj Lloyd) cannot transport this over public land, ie they cannot leave the gate even if the delivery is to the armed forces!!

    Monitoring of production/delivery will be the key issue here.

  15. Is it appropriate to buy guns from singapore? They have openly sided with the chinese as far as Arunachal is concerned. The MOD should not consider them for the tender stating the reason that they will be used by the Indian army in Tawang.

  16. "There are already 95 private companies with decades-old licences to manufacture arms, but those small companies are licensed to manufacture only shotguns of the kind used by bank guards and for hunting"

    Hunting/ Shikar is banned in all its forms in India per Wildlife protection Act, 1972.

  17. Zenith, you'll nee to question the sources of that article. It's a dispute that is not related to Singapore. That being the case, there would usually be no comment for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I'll like to see some context for that very misleading news report that is probably NOT true.

    Anyway, you have selective memory from what I can see. Israel was happy to sell technology including AWACS and their technology to China to develop the J-10, until the US stepped in and said stop.

    Further, the US currently supplies F-16s to Pakistan and provides the country with billions in aid to advance their own purposes. To top it off, they have previously embargoed India...

    Zenith, you are very insular in your approach. I'm sure you should believe everything that appears on the internet.

    If I said you were a commentator from Pakistan, would the others reading believe me? They should believe me, if they were as bright as you.

  18. I always wonder how are the prices of latest generation arms (semi-automatic/automatic) which India buys from other country for special forces/ Army and para military organizations such as BSF so freaking expensive in India even converting from $$ value to Indian Rs. I have noticed the price differential is of the order of magnitude 4-5 times. I was recently in an outdoor adventure shop which sells guns of various sizes and calibers in USA and a Glock automatic pistol was something like $500. The same one which when Indian govt buys though tendering process would cost it somewhere between $2000-$8000 minimum! Tell me if I am wrong?

  19. Anon@6:58
    My sources are correct. Here is the blog Singapore's foreign minister Mr.George Yeo contributes to. U can read about Tibet in it.

    I hope Singapore does not put its nose in the middle.I am not bothered with somebody doing business in China or Pakistan, but i am certainly concerned when they start questioning the territorial integrity of India.

    I am being neither insular nor cosmopolitan. I am just expressing my opinions based on his writings on the blog which by the way ur free to disagree with.

  20. "Thus, the most supreme strategy is to attack the plans and strategies of the enemy. The next best strategy is to attack his relationships and alliance with other nations..."- Sun Zi

    I'm sure the Indonesia and Malaysia will express co-religious solidarity with Pakistan in the event of conflict between India and Pakistan. Leaving only 1 nation (of the 3 that border the Straits of Malacca) that could possibly be neutral or even pro-India. Please try your best to be stupid, to misinterpret statements and to piss on the few Indian friends you have to ensure that you have even fewer friends.

    I'm also sure that Chinese arms sales (and offers of friendship) to Indonesia and Malaysia will ensure that India is a bit player in the larger world. China's string of Pearls will effectively encircle India and their military modernization efforts will ensure that any India-Pakistan war will be limited to land battles and India's navy will be checkmated even before the start of war.

    China will employ the US strategy against the Soviets in Afghanistan - which means the enemy of my enemy is my friend. All they need a permanent member of the UN Security Council is to veto any attempts to condemn their allies like Pakistan (and they are good to their word in the case of Sri Lanka in their fight with the LTTE).

  21. In future, China does not need to fight India, it has proxies like Pakistan to do that.

    By any measure the PLAN is superior in tonnage and capabilities - they know it and the Indian navy knows it.

    BTW, the PLAN already has basing rights in the Indian Ocean and they have the ability to track and monitor all Indian submarine and surface activities. The PLAN also has the will to patrol off the coast of Somalia, beyond the narrow confines of the Indian Ocean. IMO, there is no need for the PLAN to fight the Indian navy. They have a strategy that does not need to do that. They have already won the naval build up and are already patrolling the waters around India and are in the process of gaining access to even more ports to encirle India.

    As a 'responsible' permanent member of the UN security council, China's role is not to confront India. It's just to veto any measure that is against the interest of it's proxy. They have taken a page off the US play book.

  22. The MHA will have no option but to go to the world market if the quality consciousness of our ordnance factories does not improve. Their aim is quantity and not quality.

  23. I cannot believe the ridiculously outdated socialist-era attitudes towards private arms manufacturers here. Corrpution is far more likely in DRDO(remember the Gas Turbine Research scientist developing the LCA'S engine diverting research funds to buy flats?) or the Ordinance factories than in any private sector company.

    In every major military manufacturing country, lately even Russia and China, private sector plays the leading role in manufacturing and R & D.

    As for DRDO and Ordinance factories, our soldiers have good reasons to complain against their products. Ultimately it is they who risk their lives fighting enemies and not the DRDO scientists or Ordinance factory employees. Their needs are paramount and you or I are not qualified to decide what they want.

  24. Speak to the point

  25. You have hit the mark. In it something is also to me it seems it is good idea. I agree with you.

  26. Analogues exist?


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