INSAS (INdian Small Arms System) is a group of military rifles consisting of an assault rifle, a light machine gun and a lightweight carbine. The INSAS is currently manufactured by the Indian armament company Ordnance Factories Board at Ishapore Arsenal, Ordnance Factory Tiruchirappalli, and Small Arms Factory Kanpur. The assault rifle variant of the INSAS has now been adopted by the Indian Army as their standard rifle. The weapon fires 5.56x45mm NATO rounds (this is strange since India has not to date joined NATO). The weapon cycles at approximately 600 rounds per minute and fires from a closed bolt. It is the first Indian made assault rifle and has been modified many times since its first introduction in 1990. One of the significant features of the INSAS rifle is a chrome-plated bore and six-groove rifling increasing accuracy to a significant degree. The rifle's designers took inspiration from many rifles before settling on a manual gas-regulator similar to the FN FAL, a charging handle is on the left comparable to the Heckler & Koch HK33, and a plastic magazine adapted from the Steyr AUG.
History and Issues Edit
The Indian Armed Forces had been equipped with the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle (a licensed semi-automatic copy of the FN FAL) since the late 1950s. In the mid-1980s, the decision was made to develop a new 5.56x45mm caliber rifle to replace the obsolete L1A1 Self-Loading Rifles. The Armament Research and Development Establishment started trials on various prototype rifles based on the tried-and-true AKM assault rifle; the finished product being adopted by the Indian Armed Forces in 1990 as the INdian Small Arms System (INSAS). However, in order to phase out the aging and still in service bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifles as quickly as possible, India purchased 100,000 7.62x39mm AKM-type rifles from Russia, Israel, Hungary and Romania from 1990 to 1992.
Originally, three variants of the INSAS were planned: an assault rifle, a carbine, and a light machine gun. The assault rifle and the light machine gun variants enter mass-production in 1997. In 1998, the first INSAS rifles were displayed to the public at the Republic Day parade. However, the introduction of the rifle was delayed due to shortage of 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition, so large quantities of the ammo were purchased from Israel Military Industries. The rifle first saw action in the Kargil War in 1999. Approximately 300,000 units of the rifle are currently in the service with the Indian Armed Forces.
In 2011, the Indian government issued a proposal for the replacement of the INSAS. In the last three years, various foreign designs were submitted to test in various climatic conditions. As of October 2014, two weapons remain in the competition: the Galil Ace and the Beretta ARX 160. A key feature for this selection is that both weapons have the ability to fire the 7.62x39mm and uses AKM magazines; an important requirement for logistic support. The winner will be given a contract to supply the weapon to the Indian army and a license for domestic production.
The Indian army and various paramilitary units are still unofficially using the AKM, with licensed production being carried out in India. An AKM based rifle, called the Trichy Assault Rifle, is being tested by the Ordnance Factory Trichy.
There have been multiple variants designed from the original INSAS rifle.INSAS Standard Rifle: The first prototype was the standard assault rifle for service with the Indian Armed Forces. Originally, the rifle was planned to feature safe, semi-automatic and burst-fire fire modes; a full-automatic mode was added later in the project. The rifle comes standard with wooden furniture. A new model of the rifle bearing lightweight synthetic black polymer furniture has recently been introduced. The rifle comes with a bayonet lug, a port for the ARDE 40mm grenade launcher, a gas block for launching grenades, and flip-up grenade sights. The rifle is able to accept blank firing adaptors without issues.
INSAS LMG/SAW: The squad automatic weapon variant in use by Indian Armed Forces fires 5.56x45mm NATO rounds fed through a 20 or 30 round box detachable magazine, similar to the standard rifle. It is also fitted with a heavier barrel for sustained fire roles and has a firing rate of 600 rounds per minute as per the standard rifle. It also comes equipped with a carry handle, sling and bipod to aid in operator maneuverability and to make transport of the weapon easier.
Kalantak: A carbine version of the INSAS originally designed in 2008 for close-quarters and personal defense roles. It is chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO round and features a rail that can accommodate various modern-day optics.
Excalibur Mark-I: An ergonomic variant featuring a folding butt and a picatinny rail. It can be fitted with both 20 or 30 round magazines.