With the production of 7.62×39 mm Russian weapons yet to start at the Korwa Ordnance Factory in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Indian Army has decided to buy off the shelf 70,000 AK-203 assault rifles from Russia.
“The deal for these assault rifles was inked recently and soon after the first tranche of payment is made, the deliveries will follow within three months,” confirmed a source.
As has been reported by Financial Express Online, the Indian Army is keen to procure over 7.5 lakh AK-203 rifles. In 2019, the two countries India and Russia have already signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) after which a joint venture — Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) — was set up at Korwa, Pradesh for the manufacturing of these rifles.
More about the joint venture
It is between the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) from India and from Russian side it is Rosoboronexports and Kalashnikov. And to ensure timely execution and deliveries of the rifles as and when it starts the Indian Army has also appointed a Major General as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IRRPL. While the OFB is holding a majority stake of 50.5 percent, the Kalashnikov Group is holding a 42 percent share and Rosoboronexport; state owned agency of Russia is holding the remaining 7.5 percent.
Meanwhile, a Request for Proposal (RFP) has been floated by the Ministry of Defence to the JV for the supply of 6.71 lakh rifles.
More about the AK-47 203
It is considered to be the latest and most advanced version of the AK-47 rifle. And this is expected to replace the Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56×45 mm assault rifle, which according to officers is now having problems at high altitude.
The AK200 series rifles have retained all the benefits of the original AK classics: reliability, durability and easy maintenance.
Compared to earlier Kalashnikov rifles, AK203 has better ergonomics, accuracy and density of fire.
Robust mechanics and simplicity of operation.
The gun has been tested under the conditions of extreme heat and cold.
High degree of versatility, adjustability and customizability of AK203 – mostly due to the presence of Picatinny rail which enables easy installment on the basic rifle of various additional equipment depending on the nature of the mission: night and day gun sights, handles, flashlights, laser designators etc.
Thus can quickly be adapted to the utilization of varied components of the security agencies as well as the armed forces.
Financial Express Online has already reported that under the JV IRPL, around 100,000 Ak-203s were expected to be bought off the shelf and the remaining 6, 50,000 rifles are to be manufactured here in India under Technology Transfer.
Will the restructuring of the OFB impact the JV?
No. According to reports, the recent restricting of the OFB is not going to have any impact on the JV between India and Russia for the production of the AK 203 rifles. Once the contract is finalized the complete Transfer of Technology (ToT) will take more than three years.
What are the issues behind the delay?
The final deal for the joint production is stuck to the high cost which has been quoted by the Russian side which is asking for high royalty per rifle produced in India under the JV.