Friday, October 2, 2009

Rifle factory celebrates 106 years of glory

The Rifle Factory, Ishapore (RFI) the only ordnance unit in the country to manufacture the 5.56 mm Insas rifle celebrated its 106th anniversary on Friday. The spot where the factory now stands nearly 30 km from Kolkata originally housed a gunpowder factory of the East India Company that operated between 1791 and 1902.

From 1904, RFI started manufacturing the .303 bolt action Enfield rifles for British forces. This was the rifle used by British troops during World War II and continued to serve Indian defence and police personnel till 1962. These rifles are still part of the armoury of state police forces in the country.

"After the Indo-China War of 1962, it was realised that India requires an advanced rifle. The 7.62 mm Self Loading Rifle (SLR) popularly known as the Ishapore Rifle was developed at RFI. After 1962, these rifles were produced here and continued to remain the mainstay of Indian defence and security forces till the development of the 5.56 mm Insas rifle in the late 90s," a senior official said.

Though the Insas rifle has had its share of controversies, this was the weapon used by Indian troops during the Kargil War. After undergoing modifications, it is today considered one of the best small arms systems. Apart from the defence forces, even paramilitary and state police forces are today armed with the Insas rifle. RFI has also left its mark in the civilian arms market. It produces the .315 and .22 sporting rifles and the .22 revolver. The factory has also developed a .30-06 sporting rifle for civilian use.

Kalantak a state-of-the-art assault rifle developed at RFI is presently undergoing user trials with the army. The factory is in the process of developing another weapon, known as the Jakov Rifle, for the special forces. Arms manufactured at RFI are also imported to a number of countries.


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