Indian Army will soon get indigenous AK-203 Assault Rifles

The rifles are going to be manufactured under Joint Venture between erstwhile OFB entities & Rosoboronexport of Russia, at a facility in Amethi, UP.

AK 203 Assault Rifles
These new rifles come with a range of 300 meters, they are lightweight and easy to use. (Image Credit: Ministry of Defence)

Ahead of the India-Russia annual summit (December 6, 2021), the biggest deal to manufacture more than 5 lakh Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles in India has been cleared. The rifles are going to be manufactured under Joint Venture between erstwhile OFB entities & Rosoboronexport of Russia, at a facility in Amethi, UP.

“This is a reflection of deepening partnership between India and Russia,” said a government source. These rifles will be produced in India under Make in India initiative.

Why erstwhile?

Earlier this year, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was dissolved and seven new DPSUs were created as part of the government’s plan to corporatize. And, now the joint venture is between Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) and the newly formed DPSUs — Advanced Weapons & Equipment India Ltd. (AWEIL) and Munitions India Limited (MIL) of India.

Earlier, a joint venture was set up between the erstwhile OFB which was holding 50.5 percent (and this will now be with AWEIL & MIL); Kalashnikov Concern has 42 percent and Rosoboronexport has 7.5 percent.

As has been reported earlier, AWEIL was officially incorporated under the Companies Act 2013 and later this year in October, has been notified by the Department of Defence (DDP).

Sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online that all issues related to the Joint Venture, Localisation and production and pricing have been resolved. “The contract is ready. And all approvals have been given.”

When will the production start?

Once the contract is inked, Financial Express Online has reported earlier that the Russian side will supply the equipment required for manufacturing this rifle and will train the Indian team which will be behind the machines. The plan is to produce the assault rifles in the Korwa facility which will be 100 percent localised.

Recently a high level team was in Russia to discuss issues related to Transfer of Technology, costs etc., with officials of Kalashnikov and Rosoboronexport.

When will the delivery start?

It will start within three months of the first tranche of payment. And, according to a senior officer, manufacturing of the assault rifles has to be completed in 32 months.

Why was the project delayed?

Due to high cost, and issues related to Transfer of Technology and indigenous content.

And, the Ministry of Defence had to buy around 70,000 AK-103 off the shelf to meet urgent requirements of the Indian Army.

Requirement of the Indian Army

It was initially 6.71 lakhs, however due to delays, 70,000 AK-103 rifles were bought off the shelf. As has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online, these 7.62 X 39mm caliber AK-203 Rifles will replace in-service three decades old INSAS Rifle.

What is an AK-203 assault rifle?

It is a derivative of AK-47 and is used globally by several militaries. It is a 7.62x39mm caliber rifle.

It is also a preferred weapon of the terrorists.

These new rifles come with a range of 300 meters, they are lightweight and easy to use.

These Modern assault rifles are robust and are proven technology and will help the soldier to deal with operational challenges and in counter insurgency and counter terrorism operation.

According to government sources, this new project will help in providing opportunities to several MSMEs and other defence related industries which will provide the raw material, and other components.

Last month, Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) under the chairmanship of defence minister Rajnath Singh put its stamp of approval for the deal. However, there was another hurdle to be cleared before the deal went through and it was related to the localisation of the rifle.

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