UAE-based weapons manufacturer Caracal, chosen in 2018 to supply nearly 95,000 assault rifles to the Indian Army under a deal that has since stalled, on Monday offered to make the weapons in the country under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Caracal was chosen by the Indian government to supply 93,895 CAR 816 assault rifles to the army but the deal, described at the time as a “fast track” contract, has stalled after authorities decided to opt for indigenous production of the weapons, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.
A statement issued by Caracal on Monday stressed the small arms manufacturer’s “commitment to the ‘Make in India’ initiative and offered transfer of technology to India.
“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 statement said.
“The initiative will also see Caracal oversee technology transfer,” it said, adding that the firm is committed to shift to fully manufacturing in India from the start of the contract, as “opposed to the initial phased approach”.
There was no official response from Indian officials to the statement.
The people cited above said the matter had been raised by Caracal in a letter sent to India’s defence ministry last month, while the embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had also taken up the issue with Indian authorities.
Under its Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative aimed at greater self-reliance, the government had also insisted on the local production of a wide range of weapon and defence equipment.
Caranal noted in its statement that it had “surpassed global competitors in terms of performance and technicalities to win the bid two years ago”, and was prepared to “service the fast track order from India within 12 months”.
The firm’s CEO, Hamad Al Ameri, said, “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 were intended to replace the Indian Army’s ageing 9mm Sterling carbines.