Army launches hunt for 56,000 night sights for assault rifles

The Indian Army on Monday issued two requests for information (RFI) for equipping thousands of assault rifles with two different types of night sights to bolster the night-fighting capabilities of its soldiers, two officials familiar with the development said.

The army has launched a hunt for image intensifier and thermal imaging-based night sights for a total of 56,000 7.62X51 mm assault rifles, according to the RFIs. Image intensifier-based night sights amplify ambient light for detecting targets, while thermal imaging sights spot targets by their body heat.

The army wants 40,000 image intensifier-based night sights and 16,000 thermal imaging based night sights, the officials said. The RFI for image intensifiers states that its sight should allow soldiers to aim up to 500 metres and to detect a human target at minimum 600 metres. Another key army requirement is that the sights should have a service life of 10,000 hours of operation or 10 years, whichever is earlier.

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The second RFI states that the thermal imaging-based sights should facilitate accurate engagement of targets at a range of 500 metres. The sights should also be able to detect a moving human target at 800 metres and recognize it at 500 metres. These sights should have a minimum service life of 10,000 hours of operation or 12 years, whichever is earlier.

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Original equipment manufacturers have been asked to respond to both RFIs by March 15, 2019. The requests for proposals for the night sights will be issued in August 2019 to take the proposed procurement forward.

According to the RFIs, the image intensifier-based night sights have to be delivered between six to 48 months of the signing of contract and the thermal imaging-based night sights will have to be supplied between six to 24 months.

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The infantry is virtually blind and the night sights will provide soldiers a much-needed capability, said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd).

“Even if the surveillance equipment detects the enemy, the shooter can’t see the target. Despite detection, there is no integration between the shooter and the sensor for accurate engagement,” he said.

“World over armies are going in for shooter-to-sensor integration. It is the need of the hour for the Indian Army too. Ideally, we should go in for night sights for 7.62X39 mm rifles too.”

First Published: Feb 12, 2019 15:47 IST

Updated: February 12, 2019 — 8:50 pm