car_816
PC : File Photo

Indian Army is close to finalizing a new close quarter battle (CQB) carbines that have been awaited for the last 25 years! Team Guarding India brings you the exclusive story of the Indian Army’s new carbine.

Carbines are essential weapons for troops in close quarter battles like an inside room or within a 100-meter range. These weapons are designed for having the lightweight and short lengths as they need to be carried inside of cramped spaces like in tank or ship. Since troops carrying carbine are supposed to meet enemy up close, carbines have a rapid-fire system for massive stopping power which makes them lethal at close ranges.

Presently, the Indian Army uses the British made Sterling L2A3 (Mark 4) submachine gun that fires 9 mm bullets at a rate of 550 round/min till 200 meters. Believe it or not, this weapon was made in the Second World War has served with British Commandos raiding Hitler’s men. While the British Army retired Sterling carbines in 1994, the Indian Army is forced to continue with this antiquated carbine even in 2020.

Sterling SMG
PC : File Photo

The failure lies in with India’s Defence Ministry as in the 1990s when the Indian Army approached for new carbine DRDO claimed that it can develop an indigenous carbine to meet Indian Army requirements. Thus, by 2007, DRDO produced Amogh Carbine which failed the Indian Army test. However, DRDO continued to block Indian Army carbine tender and developed a new carbine called Modern Sub Machine Carbine (MSMC) that went on trails in 2010 and failed the tests. In 2014, DRDO renamed MSMC as Joint Venture Protective Carbine (JVPC) and pushed for another trial which too ended in failure. Thus from 1995 to 2016, DRDO blocked the purchase of new carbine.

Finally, in 2017, a frustrated Defence Ministry gave go-ahead to the Indian Army for a global tender. In 2017, the Indian Army issued a global tender for purchasing 2,00,000 carbines which will be ‘Made in India’. Simultaneously, another tender was issued for the procurement of 93,895 carbines using the Fast Track Procurement (FTP) procedure. It was under this procurement, United Arab Emirates’ Caracal International emerged as the lowest bidder with its CAR 816 carbine that is also called Caracal Sultan.

The CAR 816 is an assault rifle shortened to work as a carbine. This gas-operated rifle can fire in semi-automatic and fully automatic modes. It weighs less than 3 kgs and has multiple rails for mounting accessories like front grip, torch, and all kinds of optical/night vision sights. CAR 816 is a fully ambidextrous rifle which means it can be fired from both hands without any changes that will come handy to left-hand firers.

The CAR 816 is directly related to famed HK-416 and Sig 516 which were influenced by US M4 Rifles. It is an evolutionary upgrade with better inner mechanism, lesser recoil, and slightly lower weight. CAR 816 is designed for extreme durability and it can withstand intense heat, sand, dust, humidity, and extreme sandstorms. During the tests, CAR 816 was buried in the desert sand of over 100° F (37° C) and then it continued firing without any stoppage after being pulled out of the sand. This feature will make CAR816 a darling of Indian tankmen who will be using it in Thar desert inside T-72, T-90 and Arjun tanks.

This CAR 816 is designed to fire 5.56×45mm NATO rounds which is the same ammunition that is used by the Indian Army for its INSAS Rifles. Thus, India can comfortably utilize old ammunition stock held in reserve without any changes. In fact, the present order for 93,895 carbines is not the last one as India has a need for 3,50,000 (3.5 Lakh) such as carbines.

Caracal’s CAR 816
Caracal’s CAR 816 PC : Wikimedia

However, this deal has run in rough weather over cost-related issues and complaints from other bidders which have held this procurement. In fact, the Indian Army has also selected SIG716 assault rifles with CAR816 which have already entered service and are now due for a repeat order of 72,000 rifles.

Team guarding India hopes that the Defence Ministry can complete the order of CAR816 in the near future as the Indian Army has been waiting for the last 25 years for a new carbine that can replace World War II vintage, Sterling.