Israeli-made Tavor assault rifles have begun to appear in Indian occupied Kashmir, with Indian troops using these in operations against freedom fighters and guerrillas in the region.
The rifles developed by Israel for usage in urban warfare, are part of the India’s strategy to modernise its army, especially while dealing with insurgencies in the country.
On Friday, Indian occupation troops in southern district Shopian of Indian administered Kashmir were seen holding TAR-21 (Tavor Assault Rifle for 21’st century).
The rifle which costs around US $6500 is one of the most modern assault rifles available in the world. Tavor uses the compact Bull pup design and has improved hit accuracy. It can accommodate a 30 round magazine and sustain a rate of fire of 750 – 900 rounds per minute. The 2.8 kg dark green Tavor rifle is also designed for night fighting.
The army hopes that its ergonomics, reliability in heat and sand, and fast-point/ fast-shoot design might give them an edge in close-quarters shootouts and employment from inside vehicles. The army hopes to have an edge over separatists armed with AK rifles.
The Tavor rifles were designed by Israel Military Industries (IMI, now TAAS) company, in close cooperation with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during 1990’s.
In 2002 India signed a deal with Israel for the purchase of 3070 Tavor assault rifles worth US $ 20 million.
Army is on a modernisation spree and is trying to replace its aging weaponry. Israel too has replaced their Colt M4/M16 rifles with compact Tavors.
The consignment of these rifles was given to Indian army after a long delay. After signing the deal, Israel Military Industries (IMI) had only initially supplied 350-400 TAR-21s without grenade launchers to India’s northern Special Frontier Force (SFF). The rifles were declared ‘operationally unsatisfactory’ and India also claimed damages for delay. However, new supplies with improved designs followed.
According to reports, India currently has seven Special Forces battalions, which according to the army’s newly released doctrine, will be employed for specialised tasks behind enemy lines, to fight insurgencies in Indian administered Kashmir and the northeastern states.
Some of these forces were trained by the Israelis in anti-insurgency operations, official reports said.
IMI had also supplied around 130 Galil 7.62 sniper riles and around 450,000 rounds of ammunition to the SFF and the army for $1.4 million in 2005. It also showed interest in the newer version of Tavor Micro/ MTAR (9mm version) for its special forces and parachute regiments.
India is trying to replace the outdated World War II Stenguns and other similar weapons still in use with the army, paramilitary units and state police forces.
Georgia, Portugal and Israel are the only other countries that use variants of the Tavor rifle.