The Armament Research and Development Establishment and a Hyderabad based private firm launched an indigenous assault rifle named “Ugram” (ferocious) on January 8, 2023. This is the first time that the Defence Research and Development Organization lab has collaborated with a firm to manufacture a 7.62X 51 mm caliber rifle, an official familiar with the matter said.
The weapon has been designed and developed to meet the operational requirements of the Indian Armed Forces, along with paramilitary forces and state police forces said the official. The rifle weighing less than the four kg with a 500mter firing range was unveiled at the hands of Shailendra Gade, the director general of the Armament and Combat Engineering (ACE) system of the DRDO.
Shortage of Assault Rifles
Scientists and private players said that it was developed based on the General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQR)issued by the Indian Army for assault rifles in the recent past. The scope of the project is huge in the current security scenario because of a shortfall in assault rifles in the forces. The Import of the AK-203 assault rifles from Russian has been severely affected due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine (2022-present), the official claimed.
A. Raju, the director of the ARDE said that the laboratory developed the design for the weapon. “In this case, we have followed the newly introduced concept of Development Cum Production Partner (DCPP) to execute the project and that is how the private firm is involved in it. Now we have developed the weapon in collaboration. We will now conduct various internal trials at our firing range to test various aspects of the weapons before going for user trials, he said.
Weapon Testing in all Terrains
Weapon testing is a time-consuming process. A weapon should attain the basic threshold of forces requirements in terms of accuracy smooth functioning in all types of weather and terrain, the officials said. “We are in the process of constituting a board of officers represented by the Indian Army to carry out series of user trials in different weather and terrains.
The user in this case, the army will test the weapon in high altitude regions, deserts, etc. in the coming months. If the weapon does not meet the required criteria, then we have to take necessary measures to attain it at the earliest,” Raju added.
The ARDE officials and members of the firm worked hard to develop the weapon in hundred days. It was a commendable achievement. We could do it as the design was already ready, added the director.
Unique Barrel Manufacturing Unit at ARDE
The ARDE has established a dedicated barrel manufacturing facility on the campus. The DRDO has spent 60 crores on the project. It will manufacture barrels for weapons in quick time It will help private industries to execute weapon manufacturing projects said officials. The machines have been imported from Austria and the Ordnance Factories use these machines for manufacturing barrels.
The Director of the Small Arms Section of the ARDE, and in charge of the facility, PS Prasad said, “Private industries have got the license to develop weapons. But they do not have the technology and facility to produce barrels for the weapons. In that case they will have to import barrels. It is a costly affair for them. At the initial stage, no firm will get a huge quantity order for the weapon. So, they will not directly invest in this type of facility. Also, we have the required expertise in the area. We have to handhold them. Otherwise, they will not be able to execute the projects. As a result, the DRDO invested in this project to meet the requirements.” Prasad also said that there is a high demand from manufacturers foe developing barrels that will be cost effective as compared to the imported ones.