Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) has set up a joint venture with an Indian partner to manufacture small arms, including assault rifles, from this year. This is in line with the Indian government’s efforts to persuade foreign arms makers to share technology and make the products under the Make in India program.
IWI has tied up with India's Punj Lloyd to manufacture small arms including assault rifles, such as Tavor 21 and Galil, under technology transfer arrangement. Punj Lloyd has inaugurated a plant in central India with the help of IWI and the production of small arms will begin here this year. "We have done a joint venture with IWI and we have set up a plant for manufacturing assault rifles, carbines, light machine guns and snipers in our plant. This is a joint venture with technology transfer arrangement to India," Ashok Wadhawan, President — Manufacturing Business (Defense and Aerospace) at Punj Lloyd Limited told Sputnik.
Punj Lloyd will manufacture 5.56x45mm Tavor assault rifles that can fire up to 950 rounds per minute, and X-95 short weapon with a long barrel, three-caliber weapon having 360° Picatinny rail. Apart from assault rifles, the joint venture will also manufacture semi-automatic Negev (5.56X45mm and 7.62X51mm) assault light machine gun and 7.62x51mm semi-automatic Galil sniper rifles. The Galil sniper fires up to 1,000 meters, targeting small, mobile or concealed objectives.
Punj Lloyd has set its eye on the Indian Army's plan to purchase 185,000 assault rifles with telescopic sights in future. However, the company expects the joint venture to make it big in all the procurement plans of armed forces related to small arms. "It is basically for Make in India program. Right now we are not targeting just one product line here. All the small arms products, which are needed for the armed forces, we would manufacture," Wadhawan added.Punj Lloyd has invested approximately $52 million in defense manufacturing and has invested $4 million for this particular business. "The investment amount would keep increasing depending on the order size which we keep getting," he said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Israel this July to mark the 25th anniversary of joint diplomatic relations. Modi's visit, which will be the first-ever by an Indian Prime Minister, could yield some more defense deals between the two countries including armed Heron TP drones and Phalcon radar systems.
The Indian government signed a contract worth more than $1.6 billion with Israeli arms firm IAI. Over the last three years, India has signed 10 defense contracts with Israel, which is second only to Russia.