With increasing threat perception in Indian waters due to rising instances of piracy, the Indian Navy pans to buy 12.7mm heavy machine guns (HMG) for its ships and rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB). A request for information (RFI) has been issued for the same.
The Indian Navy’s anti-piracy and coastal security operations are in full swing due to the rising disruption in and around Indian waters. The HMGs will provide fire support for combat operations including asymmetric warfare besides enabling the destruction of lightly protected targets. The HMGs are to be used from vehicles, from RHIBs and in ground roles.
As per the RFI issued by Indian Navy, the HMGs must have a minimum effective range of 1,800 meters (5,900 ft.). The navy wants each barrel to last for a minimum of 10,000 rounds fired, with a minimum firing rate of 450 rounds per min. The RFI also specifies that the HMGs must be low-signature, and should carry a flash suppressor to enable this feature. The service also wants the weapon to have optical sighting features, including cooled thermal imaging capabilities. It is also specifies that the weight of the gun should not exceed 38 kilograms.
The Indian navy has been actively involved in anti-piracy operations around the coasts. Only last month, the Indian navy captured 28 suspected Somali pirates from a Thai fishing vessel after a brief exchange of gunfire in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Navy struck as the pirates prepared to attack a Greek-flagged merchant ship. The pirates surrendered about 100 miles west of the Lakshwadeep island after the Indian Navy and Coastguard. More recently, 61 alleged pirates were captured and 13 kidnapped crew members, held hostage, were rescued from the Vega 5 (a Mozambique fishing vessel hijacked and used as a ‘mother’ Pirate vessel).
In fact, the increasing threat perception has forced Indian Navy and the Indian coast guard to opt for high-speed patrol vessels as well. Modern naval missions which include fighting pirates have driven up the demand for smaller and more agile vessels. India has been investing in these kind of high-speed patrol vessels to improve the protection of its long coastline as well.