India opens first private small arms manufacturing plant


India yesterday opened its first private small arms manufacturing plant at Malanpur, Madhya Pradesh in a joint venture with Israel.

The plant has been setup as a joint venture — Punj Lloyd Raksha Systems — between Indian defence conglomerate Punj Lloyd and Israel Weapons Industries (IWI). The joint venture plans to develop it as a hub for providing weapons to Israel and Indian but to the world markets.

The plant will manufacture weapons like X95 assault rifle, Galil sniper, Tavor assault rifle, Negev light machine gun and the Ace assault rifle, which is similar to the Tavor but less advanced.

Punj Lloyd officials said the company has proposed the Tavor as a replacement for the INSAS rifle currently used by Indian armed forces. The Army is looking for a mainstay weapon that can replace the INSAS.

Mark Shachar, VP Business Development, SK Group said: “This plant will be a hub for us to manufacture weapons for the Indian armed forces and in the future, we will export them to the world. We will also make the plant a centre of maintenance for all these guns for India and abroad,” he said. The IWI is a member of the SK Group.

Although Ashok Wadhawan, President-Manufacturing Business, Punj Lloyd explained that the “finish product” will not be for export. He added that the plant, from tomorrow, will begin manufacturing components of these guns and which will be exported to Israel. In Israel, the components will be integrated to become guns and be provided to countries willing to buy the weapons.

“We will start integrating and assembling the weapons by the end of the year after receiving licence, which we expect soon,” said Wadhawan. Punj Lloyd has invested Rs 350 crore in defence since 2009, including this facility.


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