Back in 2018, the Indian Army began its latest effort to modernise its small arms. A tender for 5.56x45mm carbines was awarded to UAE-based Caracal. The tender called for 93,895 CAR 816 carbines but news of the contract has been scarce ever since. Now it seems that the company have made a commitment to fully manufacture the carbines in India from the beginning of the contract rather than an initial phased transition to local manufacture.
The Indian government’s ‘Make In India’ initiative has seen some political wrangling in recent months and with the push to corporatise India’s State-owned Ordnance Board Factories calls for major contracts like the one for carbines to be produced locally in line with the policy. Indian media recently reported that the Caracal contract was one of several that were under threat of being dropped because they didn’t align with the policy.
It appears that Caracal are eager to allay fears and head off any potential cancellation of the contract and have announced production of the carbines will be undertaken in India. How this new move will impact delivery timescales remains unclear but it seems highly likely that in setting up a brand new factory delays will be inevitable. It remains to be seen if the Indian Army and Government accept the new initiative from Caracal.
Caracal’s parent company EDGE Group, headquartered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), also own C.G. Haenel GmbH who have just won the Bundeswehr’s new service rifle tender. There is no word on where Caracal’s factory in India might be beyond their statement saying they have identified the “required land, facility and local partners…” However, in 2018 when it was announced that the 7.62x51mm CAR 817 would be manufactured in India MKU’s facility, located in Kanpur, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, was identified.
Here’s Caracal’s statement in full:
Abu Dhabi-UAE: 21 September, 2020 – CARACAL, a world-renowned, UAE-based small arms manufacturer, today stressed in a statement “its commitment to the ‘Make in India’ initiative”, after having previously been selected by the Indian Ministry of Defence in 2018 to fast-track the supply of 93,895 CAR 816 assault rifles to the Indian Army.
CARACAL has already identified the required land, facility and local partners to be able to commence production immediately. Over 20% of the components fitted on the CAR 816 are already made in India, with CARACAL now making commitment to fully manufacture the rifles in-country, in alignment with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The initiative will also see CARACAL oversee technology transfer.
The company already surpassed global competitors in terms of performance and technicalities to win the bid two years ago, and now confirms its readiness to service the fast track order from India within 12 months.
Hamad Al Ameri, Chief Executive Officer, CARACAL, said: “CARACAL was awarded the Close-Quarter Carbine contract in 2018 to supply the Indian Army with the CAR 816, after having undergone a rigorous selection process. Having agreed to fast track the supply, and with the formalities still under discussion, we would like to reiterate our commitment to our bid and to the ‘Make in India’ initiative. With strong bilateral ties between our two nations, and with India being a key market for CARACAL, we remain on standby to supply the product to the customer upon instruction.”
The CAR 816 carbines are intended to replace the Indian Army’s current 9mm Sterling carbines, with the CAR 816 boasting higher bullet velocity and reduced weight compared to the Sterling carbines. The assault rifle has secured a number of contracts from customers across the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and has been adapted to suit the Indian Army’s needs, incorporating the latest technological advances.
CARACAL is part of the Missiles & Weapons cluster within EDGE, an advanced technology group for defence and beyond, and has wholly owned subsidiaries in Germany and the USA