India seeks equipment for Garud SOF
In May the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued three RfIs for 7.62mm rifles, 9x19mm submachine guns and 9x19mm pistols for the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Garud Commando Force.
Both local and foreign vendors invited to submit responses by 8 July.
The desired quantity of 7.62mm rifles is 600, as well as an associated 200 40mm under-barrel grenade launchers. Interestingly, the MoD has not specified any length, weight or magazine capacity for these rifles, though they must have a minimum 300m range.
A Picatinny rail at the 12 o’clock position, as well as additional rails at the 3 o’clock and 6 or 9 o’clock positions, is specified to accommodate a reflex sight with visible/infrared laser pointer and a night vision mini-monocular.
Meanwhile, the 1,800 submachine guns needed for Garud are to have a minimum 100m effective range, weigh no more than 3.2kg and measure less than 690mm with butt extended (or 550mm with butt folded).
The magazines of the ambidextrous weapons are to contain at least 25 rounds, plus they are to feature a Picatinny rail and have a rate of fire of at least 800 rounds per minute. Accessories being sought are suppressors, tactical torches, reflex sights, night vision mini-monoculars, vertical foregrips and thigh holsters.
The 2,000 9mm pistols are to weigh no more than 800g and have at least a 15-round magazine. Also required for the pistol is an integral Picatinny rail to attach associated tactical lights and laser aiming devices. Sound suppressors and holsters are needed too.
As well as the above, an RfI for 120 binocular night vision devices compatible with helmet mounts was issued on 4 May. The devices, whose weight is not to exceed 800g, should be detachable so they can also be used handheld. The MoD has specified a minimum of Gen III image intensifier tubes.
One final RfI issued on behalf of Garud is for air-transportable armoured vehicles weighing no more than 5t and with a 550kg minimum payload. Some 50-60 right-hand-drive vehicles required from an indigenous vendor are to have automatic transmissions and be able to carry at least six soldiers.
Other specifications listed are at least a 350km road range and a 360º rotating turret mounting a 5.56mm light machine gun. The 4x4 vehicles equipped with run-flat tyres should possess six firing ports. First deliveries are to begin within six months of a contract becoming operational.
RfPs for this equipment are expected to be issued in late 2017 or early 2018.
These small arms will fit out ten additional Garud squadrons as part of the planned expansion of Garud, special forces that are primarily designed to protect the IAF’s 54 air bases. This expansion will add about 700 additional personnel and also reequip the existing estimated strength of nearly 1,200 personnel.
The strengthening of Garud comes in the wake of an attack by Islamists on Pathankot Air Force Station in Punjab on 2 January 2016, in which seven soldiers and one civilian died.
An audit revealed that security at most IAF bases is lax. Usually the Defence Security Corps is responsible for base security, a corps that consists mostly of retired military personnel with poor equipment and training.
The Garud, whose name derives from a divine birdlike creature from Hindu mythology, was created in 2004, several years after terrorist attacks on two major air bases occurred in Jammu and Kashmir.
Garud personnel are trained to operate behind enemy lines, to undertake combat search and rescue, guide precision weapons using laser designators, and to suppress enemy air defences.
Nonetheless, their primary mission is to protect IAF air bases and other key assets from enemy or terrorist attack. However, using special forces to essentially guard perimeter fences may seem a waste of talent and training, and this has led some to ask for a reassessment of Garud’s role.
Shephard has observed Garud commandos in the past, and noted they are not well endowed with modern weapons. For examples, some members have been seen using East German-built 7.62mm MPi-KM assault rifles.
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