The factory located at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh has been set up to manufacture these rifles under a joint venture. Around 6.71 lakh AK-203 7.62×39 mm rifles will be manufactured at this facility.
The long awaited AK-203 production is all set to start soon. Sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online that on Tuesday evening at the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting under the chairmanship of defence minister Rajnath Singh, approval was given to the long-pending deal of manufacture of the assault rifles at a facility set up in UP.
The approval of DAC comes ahead of the India-Russia Annual Summit early next month. Though the dates have not been formally announced, according to reports, the Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in New Delhi on a working visit on December 6, 2021 and several issues related to military trade as well as regional and global issues are on the agenda of the summit.
How many rifles will be manufactured?
The factory located at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh has been set up to manufacture these rifles under a joint venture. Around 6.71 lakh AK-203 7.62×39 mm rifles will be manufactured at this facility. In 2019, India and Russia inked an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) which led to the formation of a Joint Venture Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL).
In 2018, the decision to set up the manufacturing facility for the world famous Kalashnikov rifles here in India was taken at the end of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Following which the process of setting up a Joint Venture was initiated.
As has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online, recently Rosoboronexport submitted its proposals to IRRPL, following which a contract had been prepared by the JV which was awaiting approval of the Indian government.
More about the JV
The JV formed was between the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) which is holding 50.5 percent; Kalashnikov Concern is holding 42 percent and Russian Export Agency Rosoboronexport has 7.5 percent.
To ensure speedy execution and timely deliveries, the Indian Army had gone ahead and appointed a Major General as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IRRPL.
Once the contract is inked, the Russian side is going to supply the equipment, train the Indian specialists as well as carry out commissioning at the factory based in Korwa, UP. The plan is to produce the assault rifles with almost 100 percent localization.
At the recently concluded Army 2021 in Russia, these assault rifles were on display and Indian officials had meetings with the officials of Rosoboronexport and Kalashnikov. Pending issues including the cost as well as Transfer of Technology were the agenda of the meetings, which according to sources have now been resolved.
High cost for each rifle caused repeated delays. The JV had received a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the supply of 6.71 lakh rifles from the Ministry of Defence. Due to the delays, a deal for 70,000 AK-103 to be bought off the shelf was signed by the Indian Defence Ministry. The deliveries are expected to start within three payments after the first tranche of payment is made and is expected to be completed within six months.
What is an AK-203 assault rifle?
It is a 7.62x39mm caliber rifle. And it is a derivative of AK-47 being used by various militaries globally. This is also the preferred weapon of the terrorists.
Forthcoming annual summit
Early December, the annual summit will take place and the first ever 2+2 Ministerial Level Dialogue too is expected to take place at around the same time. The Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend in person. And the foreign minister and defence ministers and other senior officers are expected to accompany him to New Delhi.
India-Russia Military Trade
Today it stands at almost USD 15 billion, according to Victor N Kladov, head of International Cooperation and Regional Policy of Rostec State Corporation. This figure is in three years since 2018 and includes the USD 5.43 billion S-400 Triumf ‘SA-21 Growler’ air defence systems, which was inked in 2018.
Also, a third nuclear-powered attack submarine— Chakra III — has been leased for around USD 3 billion. This was signed in 2019. The Ministry of Defence made several emergency procurements since 2018 for the Armed Forces from Russia.
Project 1135.6 — Talwar Class — guided-missile frigates for the Indian Navy was also inked in 2018, and the construction of two frigates is going on in Russia, and two are being constructed at the Goa Shipyard Limited. These frigates are designed by Russia and are modified Krivak III-class frigates.
Up gradation of the MiG-29K for the Indian Navy is also going on.
Igla-S Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) systems are in the pipeline and are awaiting approval.
Requirements of the Indian Army
There is an urgent requirement of two different rifles for the Indian Army. This includes a light assault rifle and a rifle with a high rate of fire.