Understanding INSAS

Raj Malhotra
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Understanding INSAS

Postby Raj Malhotra » 15 Mar 2002 18:59

Understanding INSAS

The small arms development programme of DRDO has always interested me immensely and for some time I have been making an effort to understand it in the context of other similar development around the world.

Today, most of the current weapons used are derived from the lessons learnt from World War II and are post WW II developments.

For the western world the rifle that came to the forefront and incorporated the latest developments of the day was FNFAL. This rifle was developed by a Belgium company of the said name. The basic working principle of the rifle is delayed blowback. It taps of some propellant gas from the fore end of the barrel and uses it to provide the necessary force to work the bolt to feed the next cartridge and to fire it. After extensive evaluation, it was adopted by UK. The US also tested but decided that it only offered marginally better performance than its own M14 and hence decided to go in for M14.

FNFAL is a very well made rifle with extensive use of machining and high quality alloys. It was also adopted by Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brunei and India - to name a few of the countries that come to mind off hand. It was considered the best rifle the western technology had to offer in its day and was/is the most widely adopted design/rifle in the (free?) western world and its allies.

It is basically a battle rifle and fires a over powerful round (un rimmed) 7.62x51. This round was adopted as NATO standard on the insistence of USA. The British never seem to fail to point out that they were interested in less powerful round. This round is effective upto around 800m. The disadvantage is that no ordinary infantry soldier engages targets at this range, the accuracy of the standard rifle/ammo is not adequate to engage the targets at this range, the rounds are costly and impose excessive recoil on the firer.

While adopting this rifle (and connected NATO 7.62x51 ammo) UK did extensive testing and intentionally deleted the auto firing and kept it at single shot SLR. The reasons were: -

· Soldiers cannot fire such a powerful rifle off his shoulder on full automatic/burst fire.

· To decrease the consumption of ammo on battlefield and to prevent firing off all the ammo in panic.

· Any rifle jumps around so much on auto fire that it cannot be aimed even roughly at short range also.

· No. of experts, determined that even for spray fire, it was almost impossible to pull an auto-firing rifle in rough arc. It would simply start rising and will be pointing at the sky apart from wobbling all over the place. Better and even quicker to fire single shots at distinct targets.

Just to give an idea sterling gun (incorrectly called sten gun) fires 9x19 round and its recoil is only 1/5th of the aforesaid round but still it is not fired in full auto. Even double taps are only used in face to face situation at say 10m to 50m depending on firing posture.

(But for instance Argentineans army used auto firing FNFAL)

India also adopted this single shot doctrine in its variant of the rifle.

As already said, USA went to adopt M14 (7.62mm x 51) based on their WW II M1 based on WW I Garand firing the NATO round.

Another major gun design was G3 by German H&K. The story is that the Germans wanted to adopt the FNFAL but the Belgium was still embittered by WW II. So after the refusal of Belgium to licences the design, the Germans adopted the firing principle of locking bolt from their MG42 machine gun. This rifle also fired the NATO 7.62mm x 51 round and has auto firing as standard. This gun was also adopted by our Jehadi brethren.

The Soviets were the ones who came with revolutionary developments in the assault rifle after WW II.

Based on the research of the battles of WW II, they decided that a normal soldier does not engage targets beyond 200-400m and hence a less powerful round being 7.62x39 was adopted.

Next the legendary Kalashnikov design was born with a rotating bolt. The principle was simple. Some gas was tapped from the fore end of the barrel and provides the working force for a rotating bolt. A round would be fired, some gas from the propellant was used to rotate the bolt to eject the fired cartridge and accept a new round to be fired.

The gun was very simple and could be field stripped with bare hands (no tools) for cleaning. As the round was not very powerful the rifle could be fired in auto mode that led to the birth of “assault rifle”.

Another important factor was that round was tapered which means there were hardly any extraction problems and jams compared to western rounds which were straight walled.

The ample gas tapped from the fore end meant that bolt moved very forcefully and violently but reduced the jamming.

So this rifle had many important achievements as follows:-

· Designed at the outset to be fired at automatic.

· Correctly realized by the designers that soldiers donot/cannot engage targets beyond a certain distance and they reduced the power of cartridge.

· Designers also decided most of the soldiers simply fire their weapons as suppressive fire and for this some accuracy could be sacrificed.

· Most of the Russian infantry was conscript and they simply could not achieve the accuracy and discipline for a battle rifle. [Note this situation does not apply to Indian volunteer army and the soldiers would be excepted to fire the guns more accurately and maintain then better.]

· Made cleaning of the rifle easy by designing it to be disassembled without tools quickly, simply and avoiding any loose small parts that can be lost.

· Design feature to prevent jamming at all costs, even at the cost of making the gun somewhat difficult to balance while firing (due to hard strikes of the bolt on the receiver wall)

· Tapered cartridge to reduce extraction problems.

· Simple and cheap manufacturing techniques were used (specially on later versions) to make the rifle cheaper and simpler to produce. But this also gave the rifle shorter life and made it inaccurate.

I have always believed that Soviets came up with some very good designs & concepts and rotary bolt/Kalashnikov was one of them. This design by next fifty years became universal.

Now this rifle/design first came to the attention of the Indian army in fifties when used by Naga terrorists but then who has guts to claim that sense and IA brass ever walked together. We were still fielding bolt action.

The next major development was in the sixties during the Vietnam War where the Soviets supported Vietnamese were using AK-47. The US advisors realized that M14 was unsuitable for jungle warfare use and started ad hoc purchase of M-16 firing a smaller 5.56x45mm round. This rifle also adopted the rotary bolt with some changes.

This rifle got a first major order from UK (SAS or Airborne?). Slowly it also got into the hands of US soldiers in Vietnam. It could be fired on automatic and was accurate to a longer range then Soviet AK-47. So compared to M14, the M16 is/was lighter had less recoil and the soldier could carry more ammo for the rifle.

But the M-16 was born in a crisis situation and had problems from the word go. Some of them were as follows : -

· Over engineered. Aluminium and synthetic material used, costly but light and accurate.

· The main difficulty was the maintenance it required and extremely prone to fouling and jamming

· Difficult to clean.

· Difficult to extract a jammed round

While the AK-47/AKM started getting cult status for its reliability, the M-16 was called turd and crap among other things. The issue was that though it was supposed to be stop gap arrangement, it dragged on and on.

Then the NATO round was changed to 5.56x45 SS109 again at the insistence of US. The Europeans also started designing their rifle around the smaller 5.56mm x 45 round. The rotary bolt was almost universally adopted (except the French FAMAS).

The British initially decided to adopt a variation of a Armalite design from USA in their bullpup rifle. It turned out a disaster the folk tales are made of. The gun was extremely prone to jamming and breakages. (If you remember the DDM blamed Indian ammo for the difficulties in Sierra Leone faced by British troops with their guns.) Anyway, after substantial production for almost (10 years?) the design was scrapped for bullpupped version HK-36 (German). US also went in for HK-36 in the rifle part of its new (combined bazooka, rifle, shot gun and death ray) OICW.

The USSR followed by fine-tuning its original design in AK-74 chambered for a still smaller round of 5.45x39.

Some of the most reliable designs of the western allies were based on AK being Galil/Tavor of Israel and Swedish rifle. These rifles also consistently scored over the other designs in working in extreme weather. Singapore discarded its design based on M-16 and adopted a design based on galil/tavor which as said were based on AK as were south African rifles. Even the HK-36 seems very closely based on the principles pioneered by AK.

At this stage a word about the bullpup design. Though it seemed very attractive initially and was adopted by numerous nations like Austria, UK etc. But later on some difficulties were seen with the design like firing chamber was very close to the face, cartridge ejection also took place very close to the face, difficulty to fire from left shoulder, too short length for iron sights etc.

Now though Indians were pretty late in catching on the trend but the development started in early 1980s for the INSAS system in order to adopt a rifle firing a less powerful round compared to 7.62mm x 51.

The development and production has been plagued by delays but then this is not new. The bulk production was to start in and around 1988 but only started 10 years late. The positive thing is that around 4 lakh plus rifles have been issued which means that all the frontline troops are now equipped. The ammo production is in full swing and is around 300+ million rounds per annum. The LMG also seems to be now being produced at the required rate.

Before we criticize the delays and difficulties of INSAS, It is important to study the case of British rifle where there design failed after 10 years struggle. M-16 always had problems and has to replaced (in effect) by HK-36. Atleast our rifle was one of the best designs around, adopted after extraordinary detailed testing and created after studying/incorporating the features of AK-74, HK-36, FN FNC, M16 (? Steyr, SA-80) etc. [No, it did not become a kitchidi and is a good design : D ]

As the tech was very mature by this time, therefore it was a matter of making various choices. The whole point of the aforesaid discussion was to demonstrate that what were the difficulties/choices confronting the designers. For instance it is my guess that: -

· The round that was chosen was 5.56x45 in preference to 5.45x39 due to its longer range and to maintain compatibility with the western ammo. (Though the benefits of tapered cartridge were lost)

· The conventional layout was chosen to prevent the disadvantage of Bull pups.

· The basic action was from AK-74 because it was the best. (Some other features of other successful rifles were chosen like charging handle from H&K etc. This I suppose would make the extraction of a jammed round easier.(?))

· The gun was given very high quality finish, chroming to make it accurate and having longer life. Attention was paid to detail like providing recoil compensator, cleaning pull through rag etc in the butt.

· Disposable fiberglass magazines were chosen, as reusable metal sheet mags are prone to getting damaged/bent which cause jams. Also one can check the number of bullets in transparent fiberglass mag by looking at it. The disadvantage is they are more fragile (but pretty sturdy for the use envisaged). It is correct that one can bang around a sheet metal mag and use it for hammering nails but then when the rifle is to be used, it may cause jams. If a fiberglass mag breaks then one can always put in another. Also disposable mags removes the problems of dirt getting into mags and causing malfunctions.

· The butt stock etc was adopted from FN instead of adopting the straight layout of M-16/HK-36. Probably for lowering the profile of the soldier while firing the gun though the disadvantage is the gun will climb rapidly if fired on full automatic.

· A much-criticized feature is that the gun only has burst fire of 3 rounds and not full auto. Firstly let me say that OFB is already offering a full auto rifle but the army is not purchasing the same. The reasons are similar to what has been said before. For instance US deleted the full auto fire from its latest M-16 and replaced it with burst fire. In fact, it is not usually appreciated that making a gun full auto is cheaper. Adding single shot and burst fire features increases cost and complexity. Just to reiterate the reasons again – the gun cannot be controlled in full auto specially beyond 3 round burst even in roughly general direction, even limited 3 round burst fire is for spraying/suppressive fire only, full auto increases consumption of the ammo to the extent that it may be a disadvantage in battles etc. For hitting anything specific even at very short range say 10-50m, single shots is the norm. Many experts continue to be of the opinion that in real life situations it is quicker to fire multiple single shots at various targets even at short range then trying to control/bring a gun on full autofire to bear on the targets.

· Furniture of the gun is brown. Now full black is available.

· Carbine is one of the most unique designs of the world. It has combined the advantages of both bullpup and a conventional design by two triggers. It was suffering from some problems probably due to excessive muzzle flash and recoil due to short barrel length. It seems the same is being solved. I donot know how, but short barrel lengths are seen on guns Kalashnikovs using vortex bleeder, new US gun OCIW (10 inch stainless steel barrel) and M4 etc. I would love to learn as to how this issue has been tackled on INSAS carbine.

· The INSAS LMG does not have rapidly changeable barrel. But on the other hand it is accurate enough to even allow a scope to be used with it. I think the fixed barrel is to increase the accuracy of the LMG. For instance, British Squad weapon 5.56 x 45 with fixed barrel can be used as a sniper rifle at around 400m to take out man sized targets. In any case, LMG are not supposed to be fired in auto for a length of time that the barrel would become too hot and would require to be changed. Even an LMG inspite of its heavier barrel/weight would start climbing off the target if the burst starts increasing beyond 3 rounds. So, if the LMG is being fired in proper manner then barrel change is not required. The absence of barrel change has been a feature of number of similar weapons.

· LMG uses a 30 round mag instead of belt. This is also a matter of choice. The mag feed decreases the complexity of the gun and makes it more reliable. The requirement to change the mag gives the opportunity for the barrel to cool down. Mag feed has been a feature of a number of weapons. For instance, in Sierra Leone there were some complaints about dirt problem in GMAGs which were belt fed weapons. Mag change also allows the soldier some time to reacquire his own composure in the heat of battle and not fire off all his belted ammo. (This sentence is going to get some flames I suppose)

· To increase the effectiveness of the rifle/LMG, they are also been offered with scopes. It must be noted that with the introduction of new production plant for the ammo/rifle and cold swaging technique, INSAS is much more accurate then the old issue FN. Theoretically even though INSAS have a shorter range but effectively they can be used at a much longer range due to accuracy. FN power to a large extent goes waste.

Now to tackle some of the criticism of this gun:-

· Low quality

Incorrect. Very high quality. OFB goes to the extent of chroming the barrel/receiver and fine finish. Uses cold swaging technique for manufacture. Price of around US$ 300 compared to AK for US$ 50.

· Pricey

Incorrect. Costly compared to AK as it is more powerful, more accurate and has longer life. But pricing is competitive to its western counterparts like M16 around US$ 400.

· Complaints recorded by CAG

All equipment has complaints. The whole struggle of mankind is to improve. The point that CAG does not consider is whether any other gun could have performed better? In any case lot of problems are being dealt with by OFB/DRDO. This is called improvement. Recently when M4 a variant of M16 was being evaluated by US marines, there were some complaints/deficiencies noted in the gun. This is to show that even after a long time the improvement to weapons remains a constant feature and nothing is ever perfect.

· Late/Delayed

Correct. But then this is another story on which I have lot to say about GOI in general.

· It is poor rifle as Kalashnikovs are being imported.

This is the criticism that is unwarranted. Frankly it is also the motivating factor of this long rambling piece.

I would have hoped that the aforesaid by this time would have made the situation clear but for my satisfaction I will paraphrase it.

i. Kalashnikov is a very special rifle and its unique feature is its extreme reliability. This is not matched by any other design in the world. It is feature created by the combination of the rifle and the ammo. To create this feature numerous sacrifices are made.

ii. Kalashnikov are also used by many nations (for special forces) like Israel which have very well developed small arms industry.

iii. Kalashnikov 7.62mmx39 imported by India is a short ranged inaccurate gun compared to INSAS.

iv. It also has a shorter life and is off course cheaper.

v. The Kalashnikov was mainly purchased when the INSAS was being delayed but now production is in full swing. Some orders were recently given to the Bulgarians but it was because grenade launcher was wanted and for compatibility sake some (around 10,000) guns were also imported.

vi. The Kalashnikov was also purchased, as in some situations it is beneficial to have inaccurate rifle. This type of gun can provide a spread of fire at short range. This requirement to some extent now will be met by carbine and auto INSAS rifle. Note – During Sri Lanka situation some soldiers cut off the barrel of FN to give spread to the bullets and also filed of (? some part) to make the gun fully automatic.

vii. An important feature of Kalashnikov is that to increase the reliability of the gun to work in extreme climate and in presence of dust/dirt contaminants, the gas tapped from the fore end is excessive, which makes the bolt move violently and hammer against the receiver walls. This in fact make the firing and extraction of spent cartridge reliable but does wear down the gun. More importantly it makes the gun instable while firing on auto or burst firing. This makes the gun difficult to control and the inaccuracy/spread is even greater if fired in burst/auto mode by soldiers. So it may have limited use beyond short range spread fire.

viii. The Kalashnikov is not a substitute for INSAS. If it was so then 5.45mm x 39 variant would have been bought and not 7.62mm x 39 variant. This variant is specifically for COIN/CI/Special ops as the bigger round gives more killing/stopping power at short range. In many situations in Kargil as the battle was at a very short range the soldiers might have taken Kalashnikov. Incidentally, even silenced UZIs were used. This does not mean that INSAS is bad, it only points out that various tools are used to meet different situations. One rifle is not an answer to all situations. Though the bulk of troops used INSAS even in Kargil.

ix. The tapered round of Kalashnikov as said, prevents jamming. Short of inventing a new bore for IA, the option is to purchase some guns for special needs.

x. My feeling is that Kalashnikov is more of a replacement for Sterling gun (sten gun) as it is very short ranged rather than main rifle. The Sterling can only be useful for max 50-100m while the Kalashnikov is good for 100-200m. This enhance range is more useful range for military or quasi military situations compared to police situations. [INSAS is easily 400m+]

xi. The purchases for Kalashnikov are for ~100 crore ammo and guns. INSAS purchase are almost ~1200 crores (gun and ammo)

(This is a first effort. All the criticism is welcome. It should directed against the aforesaid note and not against me :D )

neeraj
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby neeraj » 15 Mar 2002 20:26

good work dude

one ques though the insas had some problems in the cold weather. Are the problems solved. Also is it true that india has exported/exporting insas to turkey. If yes how many units

Thanks

Babui
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Babui » 15 Mar 2002 20:44

Wow ! Raj - excellent summary. Qts - during Kargil, their were qts of the stopping power of the INSAS carbine. Stopping power comes from velocity and size of ammo. Since ammo is the same for carbine, rifle and LMG; then velocity of carbine fire must be low. Has this problem been solved ? Is carbine used only for special purposes ? (because I've yet to see a photo of an infantryman holding a carbine).

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby karthik.k » 15 Mar 2002 20:57

Great work. IIRC, an article, whose link was posted here on BRF, talked about a German rifle Sturm Gehwr (or something) actually being the first assault rifle in the world. You could check this out just for factual accuracy. Also do you have any info on the much heard about Schmeissers ?

Raj Malhotra
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Raj Malhotra » 15 Mar 2002 21:29

Originally posted by Karthik Krishnamurthy:
Great work. IIRC, an article, whose link was posted here on BRF, talked about a German rifle Sturm Gehwr (or something) actually being the first assault rifle in the world. You could check this out just for factual accuracy. Also do you have any info on the much heard about Schmeissers ?
Thanx Karthik

Actually you are right the Soviet concept was in fact the advancement of German development (of adopting less powerful cartridge) in this field. Though I cannot say off hand, which was the rifle/machine pistol. I suppose one can actually credit the Germans. I think the correct phrase should be “modern Post WW II” war concept of assault rifle was led by AK. The German lesson was obviously ignored by western powers as they adopted the 7.62x51.

Raj Malhotra
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Raj Malhotra » 15 Mar 2002 21:31

Originally posted by neeraj:
good work dude

one ques though the insas had some problems in the cold weather. Are the problems solved. Also is it true that india has exported/exporting insas to turkey. If yes how many units

Thanks
Thanx Neeraj.
The point is all guns have problems in extreme weather. I cannot remember/locate the link but there was this test in Alaska of numerous famous western guns in cold/wet conditions and all the guns failed miserably except Galil. I think the report also created some furor. And I feel the difficulties in Kargil are even greater. In extreme situations one perhaps has to adapt the “handling” of the weapon. Be as it may, the OFB/IA/DRDO was giving attention to the problem.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Rudra » 15 Mar 2002 21:37

for cold weather certain things that dont appear
obvious at the tropics are necessary. could be
as easy as changing lubricants to ones that have
lower freezing points, design of machinery such
that folks wearing thick gloves can operate them
...and so on.

For ops in kargil-Leh type regions, perhaps all
MGs and rifles need trigger guards that are much
larger and larger triggers that enable gloved
hands to operate. Things that are power driven
rather than muscle driven like lets say heavy
mortars and artillery pieces with APUs are also
good.

Raj Malhotra
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Raj Malhotra » 15 Mar 2002 21:37

Originally posted by Babui:
Wow ! Raj - excellent summary. Qts - during Kargil, their were qts of the stopping power of the INSAS carbine. Stopping power comes from velocity and size of ammo. Since ammo is the same for carbine, rifle and LMG; then velocity of carbine fire must be low. Has this problem been solved ? Is carbine used only for special purposes ? (because I've yet to see a photo of an infantryman holding a carbine).
Thanx

Actually I am not aware whether INSAS carbine was used in kargil. The issue of stopping power is off course there and therefore some COIN forces prefer bigger round of 7.62mm AK. Though off course there is another school which thinks that higher velocity of even smaller round causes extreme trauma. I think INSAS carbine would be suitable for most of the work.

Carbine to my knowlege is not inducted yet. The 5.56mm Indian round is considered verstile enought to be used in all the three types of weapons.

Some change in the ammo effect is off course obtained by varying the barrel lenght of three weapons.

i donot think the velocity is a issue in the carbine. Actually i think the carbine was having difficuly in handling the powerful round and this issue is being tackled.

Babui
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Babui » 15 Mar 2002 22:00

Raj - a broader qts - what exactly is the utility of a carbine ? What was the rationale for developing it ? What advantages does it have over the rifle ?

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Krishna » 15 Mar 2002 22:00

Raj Thanks a lot for this wonderful article. I am really impressed with your reasoning and the perspective you provide for the development of the INSAS series in relation to other rifle designs around the world. Could this be published as a BRM article so that people understand the strenghts and weaknesses of this piece of Indian engineering ? This would be really helpful in educating people about the advantages of indigenous design and development.

Krishna

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby karthik.k » 15 Mar 2002 23:11

Raj:
This is in case you decide to make this post into a full fledged article. Here are some links I dredged up on the origins of an assault rifle.

The Assault Rifle: Fact and Fantasy
Far more modern in concept and still an effacious weapon today if an ammunition supply can be secured, the MP.43/44 weapons were the first assault rifles intended for general issue. There are three versions of the basic rifles, all essentially the same save for sight accommodations and fittings and often simultaneously marked MP.43, MP.44, and STG.44. The last abbreviation---supposedly straight from Hitler himself---means literally SturmGewehr or assault
rifle.
This was what I was talking about.

Another informative site.
Modern Firearms: Assault Rifle

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Nikhil Shah » 16 Mar 2002 00:00

Raj - good job!! With some refinement, I would like to propose it for BRM.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Victor » 16 Mar 2002 00:22


Kapil
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Kapil » 16 Mar 2002 00:22

Great Work Raj!
I second the BRM article proposal
:)

Kapil

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Surya » 16 Mar 2002 00:25

Not yet - I think there needs to be a lot more understanding of the INSAS in service before it hts BRM.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Sunil » 16 Mar 2002 01:04

Hi,

i think it is a great idea to bash down the gibbersh that people put out on the INSAS, so i 100% support the idea of an article in the BRM on this.

As small arms do not fall in my usual areas of interest, i am hard placed to help with the technical aspects of this. However i do have some general comments on the article.

a) We need to clearly segregate two things..

1) Why the world needs a automatic rifle? and
2) Why india needs an automatic rifle?

this will help motivate the INSAS discussion and there is some of (1) but the second part i.e. `India's needs' is not covered in the present article.

b) People are constantly comparing `indian stuff' to `world standards'.. so i strongly recommend having a comparison chart of the major assault rifles in the world including pricing etc..

c) The development time has been long and that needs some discussion also. I think we all have to see one thing very clearly.. a majority of the people in india DO NOT understand the concept of `Development Cycle Time'. Extremly unrealistic ideas of this exist and this feeds all sorts of misunderstandings and disappointments. So I think it is very important to talk about this.

d) Performance evaluation: Anything that can be written about the weapon without compromising the safety of its users in the field is should be written. Here too it is vital that any performance reports be directly sourced to specific people as far as possible. This will enhance the credibility of the article.

I stress again, i very strongly support this being in the BRM but i feel it needs more work.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Shalav » 16 Mar 2002 01:32

Originally posted by Raj Malhotra:
The Soviets were the ones who came with revolutionary developments in the assault rifle after WW II.
Actually the AK was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov (supposedly while in hospital recovering from wounds received in battle) based on the Soviet experience of the Stg 44. A WW II German Assault Rifle.

The circumstances and thinking ascribed to the Soviets in the article actually were what the Germans came up with.

ie: They figured in actual combat engagement range was around 800 m. The standard cartridge with a range of 2400 m was considered as too powerful and would be restricted to machineguns. The Germans developed a newer short cartridge with the desired range of about 800 m.

Hitler had a thing for machine guns, and was opposed to a new comabt rifle. The development was done in secret designating it as a machine pistol. Hence the MP 44 original designation.

It was only after it was introduced that Hitler was so impressed with its performance he insisted on calling it the Sturmgewehr or Assault Rifle. Which is where all similar modern rifles get their designation from. And therefore the designation Stg 44.

The weapon was designed by Hugo Schmeisser, who was supposed to have designed the (in)famous MP38 and MP 40, I think Heinrich Vollmer was the one who was heavily involved in these designs, even though these guns are known as the Schmeisser.

The Stg 44 is the grandfather of all modern assault rifles, in terms of design concept, and usage.

When you write up something for BR you should change the paragraph about the design origins of the modern assault rifle.

****

added later:

Forgot to add, excellent write-up!

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Rupak » 16 Mar 2002 01:51

Raj
Great write up
A prime candidate for becoming a BRM article
R

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Sumair » 16 Mar 2002 03:04

Raj! Thank you Sir for this very informative write up specially for laymen like me.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby JCage » 16 Mar 2002 04:11

Yo Raj,
Superb work,man! :)

regards,
Nitin

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Guest » 16 Mar 2002 04:41

About the INSAS performance at high altitudes, it seems to be good considering the fact that it performs well in Kargil. The press reports talked about problems in Siachen related to material failure. That is not very surprising considering the conditions. A team of rifle experts was apparently formed to look into the matter.
The whole thing was blown way out of proportion by the press as just all problems with indigenous products are.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby JE Menon » 16 Mar 2002 04:54

Great stuff Raj. Definitely BRM material.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby JCage » 16 Mar 2002 04:58

The whole thing was blown way out of proportion by the press as just all problems with indigenous products are.
Tell me about it.The media sucks....bigtime.
I can count the number of interested and credible journalists on my fingers...and there are a few left over.

Regards,
Nitin

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Guest » 16 Mar 2002 05:22

INSAS with Black finish

<img src="http://weaponsindia.com/images/assaultrifle-1.gif" alt="" />

Roop
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Roop » 16 Mar 2002 05:32

Raj:

Excellent work!

I have just one quibble -- the time taken to change an LMG (Bren) magazine is neglible. A trained Bren gun team can do it in less than 5 seconds. That is nowhere near enough time for the barrel to cool.

If the INSAS LMG designers decided that replaceable barrels were unnecessary, there must have been other reasons for the decision. Change of magazines had nothing to do with it. IMHO, of course.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Shalav » 16 Mar 2002 05:59

Maybe the designers of the INSAS eventually see the LMG variant with a larger capacity drum magazine?

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby member_1459 » 16 Mar 2002 06:57

I was wondering if you have actually used the INSAS and other guns that the Indian forces use?? I am hoping that we can get people on BR who have actually used the different systems in battle and can give us some insight. I don't have a problem with experts generally but around this issue I would want to know what the soldier using the weapon thinks. It seems to me that some people on BR may have connections they can use to get some experienced users to discuss this issue.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Arun_S » 16 Mar 2002 07:06

Thanks fo ra very well informed & written piece.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby shiv » 16 Mar 2002 07:38

Thanks for the super write up - I have learned something here. This material really needs to go into a more permanent place.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby neil » 16 Mar 2002 09:29

On my recent trip to India i got to visit a defense installation and had a chance to see and fire both the INSAS and FN-FAL

INSAS is well made, is properly balanced and easy to fire, the recoil is not that bad and the accuracy is pretty nice(i fired to about 150m), now i am no gun expert but the finish did not look to bad to me. However in this day and age it would be nice if it came with better sights.

The FN-FAL is somthin that is a totally different experience, the recoil could tear your shoulder apart if you are not expecting it, and even thought i was warned it still did hurt quite a bit. The rifle is very very powerful and very accurate if used properly(i scored better with the FAL then INSAS) There is still plenty of life left in this old sucker. The only thing that i thought was a negative was the fact that it was too heavy.
I'd be able to answer some basic questions, however like i said i aint no expert on guns, just good at recognising them.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Surya » 16 Mar 2002 09:30

Raj:

you need to chase 2 things
1. As Sunil pointed out - open source info on INSAS user views

2. Why the AK 47 is preferred?
Short range battle somehow does not answer the that fully. There are veterans of 18 years of non stop CI who swear by the AK 47 under any condition.

Could be that the AK is contrary to its origins actually more useful for better trained troops. The INSAS on the other hand like the SA80 makes an average soldier more accurate hence lethal.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Subra » 16 Mar 2002 10:13

Raj:

Before your INSAS write up there is a more important article which you have a base for. Your post on snipers sometime back.

Contact me at subra@bharat-rakshak.com

Victor
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Victor » 16 Mar 2002 10:40

Originally posted by Amar B:
I don't have a problem with experts generally but around this issue I would want to know what the soldier using the weapon thinks.
Very good point. I would feel a lot better if the average Jawan bought into the weapon's philosophy completely, (limited-burst etc) specially if they were battle hardened guys from Kargil.

However, it would be hard to imagine that this gun could be the outcome of babu-dom alone. There had to be some very knowledgeable Army types involved. That said, I personally hope that our police forces eventually inherit the 'limited' brown model when we are churning them out and our Army guys get the full-auto/single/3-round Black Blaster as standard issue.

Raj, thanks for a great thread. Good job.

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Raj Malhotra » 16 Mar 2002 14:21

Thanx for appreciating my note. I was afraid it had become too long and was rambling

Re babui
To my understanding “presently” the difference in an assault rifle and carbine is less compared to say between a sten gun and a bolt action enfield.

I would think the carbine is “now” just a shortened version of an assault rifle (normally with a shorter barrel) with a device to bleed off excess energy, so that the carbine can be fired at auto on closer targets if required. The short length also helps swilling/turning quickly to meet the threat.

Re Karthik/victor
Thanx for the links and encouragement

Re shalav
You are off course right. German concept was the originator of “assault rifle”. Actually I should have phrased my sentence better, I wanted to credit Soviets with “rotary bolt” which has become almost universal now.

I have also emailed you.

The larger mags if need be can always be used. They are normally compatible with standard rifles. But larger mags raise different issue.

Mohan
99 out of hundred says you are right. The point I was trying to raise was that there were two choices – whether to incorporate the belt feed or not. For instance Minimi has it and British LMG does not. I just tried to examine various pros & cons. I donot have any access to the weapon designers. (They may have simply tossed a coin :)

Surya
I donot think there is any good/extensive open source material (which I am aware of) J
On a lighter note, I swear by my 50 years old hand wound gold watch, has always impressed members of the opposite sex. :D

Subra
check email

Victor
In ways the INSAS is also better suited for police action. With rising gross yearly cost of a policeman with 5th pay commission and all, it almost criminal not to arm them properly.

Also I think the main difficulty is “not making pro active” decisions. The bureaucracy and politicians are blamed for lot. But some blame has to be accepted by army brass also. Nobody for instance prevented then from cutting grass at appropriate times.

On the other hand inaction has no cost in Indian system. There is no info as to how many people have been punished for reportedly 17 (?) fires in stores and armouries. While this bhatia-sekhon business is out of control.

Sunil
I understand learning curve. But this is not an answer to all delays. Defence production sector needs flexibility, dynamism and competition of Pvt sector. In lot of projects I am convinced India can do it, but whether GOI can?, is the issue !

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Raj Malhotra » 16 Mar 2002 14:26

Originally posted by neil:
On my recent trip to India i got to visit a defense installation and had a chance to see and fire both the INSAS and FN-FAL

Neil
I suppose it would interesting if you could give more details about your experience in general

Raj Malhotra
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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Raj Malhotra » 16 Mar 2002 14:27

As regards the BRM, I think this note needs a huge amount of work. BRM has simply set up very high standards. I have not maintained any references to the most of the info I have put in and appropriately every line should have a source. Crediting my commando comics and conversation in a train with a dark haired gentleman is not going to be helpful :D

I think Sunil has laid down very good perspective, I think his following words are very relevant

Performance evaluation: Anything that can be written about the weapon without compromising the safety of its users in the field is should be written. Here too it is vital that any performance reports be directly sourced to specific people as far as possible. This will enhance the credibility of the article.

frankly this is easier said then done. One way can be that the admin of BR can forward this to OFB-DRDO etc for comments. But I think the simpler way would be to contact the “writer” of the previous BRM article on INSAS. It was one of the best and still is. That article did not address the field performance issues and the “whys” (for instance why 5.56 and not 5.45 etc). Using this note as a skeleton he/she can work on it further. I will give whatever assistance I can.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/ISSUE1/br-mon6.html


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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby maitya » 16 Mar 2002 15:16

Originally posted by Raj Malhotra:
Understanding INSAS
Excellent Article!! One definitely for the Monitor ... and also qualifies for a permanent link from the "Infantry Weapons:Specifications" section.
But some more info on the reported problems in Siachin viz from HT: major defects like cold arrest, breakage and cracking of components develop needs to included.

Also the 4lakh plus doesn't gel well - with 90,000/year production-rate at '97, even at a static rate, we should ideally have a lakh more introduced ... remember we're looking at around 1.2m figure. And rate should have gone up after 5 years of prodction, anyway!!

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby davidn » 16 Mar 2002 15:38

wow!
nice write up raj!

that pic ananth posted looks pretty damn fearsome (& professional) :D

if i can ask a question...
do u know if they are putting or have put this black finish version into service, and do you know anything about the optic sights u can mount on an insas. The last pic i saw of an optic sight mounted INSAS was, well ugly. The sight had no casing, rather the interior parts of the sight were all visible and metal stuck in all directions. Im not sure if that was a prototype to test the sights effectiveness, or if it was an actual sight.
Do you know if they have developed a newer, more practical, better finished sight, and any specs for that sight?

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Re: Understanding INSAS

Postby Raj Malhotra » 16 Mar 2002 15:43

Originally posted by maitya:
Originally posted by Raj Malhotra:
[b]Understanding INSAS
Excellent Article!! One definitely for the Monitor ... and also qualifies for a permanent link from the "Infantry Weapons:Specifications" section.
But some more info on the reported problems in Siachin viz from HT: major defects like cold arrest, breakage and cracking of components develop needs to included.

Also the 4lakh plus doesn't gel well - with 90,000/year production-rate at '97, even at a static rate, we should ideally have a lakh more introduced ... remember we're looking at around 1.2m figure. And rate should have gone up after 5 years of prodction, anyway!![/b]
Maitya check the first CAG link, will answer your questions


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