AK-57 Dragunov sniper rifles to be replaced by Indian army

India's Ministry of Defense is planning to acquire 6,500 sniper rifles to replace ageing AK-57 Dragunov SVD marksman rifles.

AK 57 Dragunov sniper rifles to be replaced by Indian army
The Indian army wants to repace 6,500 AK-57 Dragunov SVD sniper rifles (Picture source: Dragunov.net)

The Indian MoD will consider proposals worth over Rs2,000 crore (USD 307.7 million) to provide over 17,000 light machine guns and 6,500 sniper rifles to the Indian armed forces. The firearms are expected to be purchased through the medium of a fast-track procurement procedure.

Both infantry units and special forces of the Indian army now use the baseline Dragunov SVD 7.62 mm DMR chambered for the 7.62x54R (M1908) cartridge. The Times of India newspaper says the relevant requests for proposals (RfP) were sent to overseas and domestic small arms manufacturers in late October 2017. The firearms will be complemented by thermal imagers. The requirements to the new sniper weapons have yet to be published. However, the rifles should have a firing range of approximately 1,200 m. The whole delivery is planned to take six to eighteen months.

The reason behind the intention of the Indian military has not been announced. The Times of India mentions the reliability of the Dragunov lnd low availability of M1908 cartridges as the primary drivers for this decision. "The 7.62 mm Dragunov [sniper rifle] has been suffering from several problems," the newspaper cites an unnamed military officer who did not provide any additional details. "The [Indian] Army sources said these rifles fail to recognize targets at a distance of over 300 m at night; moreover, the shoulder-fired Dragunov does not possess adequate stability," the Times of India adds. However, the Dragunov family of DMRs is famous for its reliability and combat performance, and the complaints of the Indian military against it seem alleged and exaggerated.