The Indian Navy's elite marine commandos will this month be armed with Israeli assault and rifles that will enhance their operational capability as a force trained for special operations. A consignment of over 500 TAR-21 Tavor assault rifles and another 30 Galil sniper rifles worth over Rs.15 crore ($3.3 million) and Rs.2 crore respectively was delivered to the MARCOS (marine commandos) in December 2010, a defence ministry official told reporters.
A team from the Israeli Military Industries (IMI), the manufacturer of the specialist weapons, will be in India to carry out joint inspection of the consignment's post-delivery quality to ensure the weapons are in fighting-fit condition. "The lot of over 500 Tavor and 30 Galil rifles has arrived and the Israeli team will be here to jointly inspect the delivered weapons and for assembling them. The MARCOS will begin using these rifles and start training on them from this month," the official said. He did not wish to be identified because of ministry rules.
The defence ministry had placed the orders for the rifles for the MARCOS - their actual strength is classified - in 2008. The two weapons are already in use with the Indian Army's special forces and the Indian Air Force's Garud special forces units. The army's special forces got about 3,000 of the Tavors and another 1,000 of the Galils some time in 2004, for which they had placed orders in 2002.
The Tavor, a 5.56mm calibre weapon of NATO specifications, is a 21st century assault rifle from IMI. The MARCOS have been using the indigenous INSAS rifles and the Russian Kalashnikov variants. The Tavor would also be a standard weapon for the force from now. The Galil is a 7.62mm sniper weapon, again manufactured by IMI, popularly known as Galatz in the Israeli defence forces.