As per the latest reports, within the last one-week Indian Army’s carbine deal for acquiring CAR 816 carbines has moved at a breakneck pace as the UAE firm has changed its stance and is now ready to manufacture CAR 816 carbines in India. To recollect, in 2017, India issued a tender for Fast Track Procurement (FTP) procurement of 93,895 carbines. Subsequently, in 2018, United Arab Emirates (UAE) based Caracal International emerged as the lowest bidder with its CAR 816 carbine that is also called Caracal Sultan. Undoubtedly CAR 816 carbine is an excellent weapon and you can read more about its qualities in this Guarding India Exclusive.
While CAR 816 carbine proved its metal in rigorous tests conducted by the Indian Army but the deal was entangled over cost negotiations wherein India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) demanded that Caracal International has to manufacture a certain portion of these rifles in India which off course dented profits of the UAE Company leading to protracted negotiations. Therefore, by September 2020, Indian MoD was about to scrap the carbine tender and was preparing to issue a fresh tender under the ‘Made in India’ category.
This set an alarm in UAE company as it was not just only the lure of supplying 93,895 CAR 816 carbine to the Indian Army which will make the deal large enough to equip the entire UAE Armed Forces of 1,00,000 soldiers but also lure of supplying more carbines to the Indian Army in follow on deals where estimated numbers will be more than 3,50,000 (3.5 Lakh) carbines.
Therefore, on 21 September 2020, UAE-based Caracal International stated its willingness to supply 93,895 CAR 816 carbines under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The company further added that it has already identified the local partner, production facility, and required land for establishing the production line of a fast track basis for immediate delivery.
It is noteworthy that as per Caracal International, around 20 percent of the components used in CAR 816 carbines are already being produced in India and its latest ‘Made in India’ offer will result in the establishment of a full-fledged production line in India. This will also mean the transfer of production technology to a joint venture between Caracal and an Indian company.
So, what made the Caracal International change their offer? The answer lies in great diplomatic and rising military ties between UAE and India. In fact, both nations share a great friendship between the top echelons of power, and the UAE Embassy played a crucial role in securing this deal. The significance of the India-UAE strategic partnership can be measured from the fact that immediately after the Uri Attack, the UAE issued a statement suggesting that New Delhi should take decisive action against the perpetrators of the Uri Attack. The recent peace deal between UAE and Israel is destined to benefit India as UAE joins the camp of pragmatic Gulf kingdoms.
This closeness of ties was well understood as Mr. Hamad Al Ameri, Chief Executive Officer of Caracal International stated “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 recent Caracal offer is surely heartwarming news for the Indian Army which has been waiting to replace its World War II vintage 9mm Sterling carbines that are still being used by Indian soldiers. The CAR 816 carbine has greater range, enhanced safety, packs much more power, and will be compatible with all new generation accessories like optical/night vision sights.
This diplomatic outreach is the second good news from the Indian Army in the last two months as in August 2020, personal talks between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Russian Defence Minister removed roadblocks from much-awaited AK-203 assault rifles deal which will result in the production of more than 7,00,000 AK-203 Assault rifles in India.
Team Guarding India hopes that after the latest diplomatic initiative by UAE, Indian MoD is pragmatic in accepting the new offer as this will not only supply a cutting edge carbine to Indian troops but also cement India-UAE ties wherein India may also export some of its defence equipment to UAE.