AK-203 Assault Rifle: Two days before the India visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government Saturday cleared the deal to manufacture more than 5,00,000 AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles in India through a joint-venture company – Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) located in Korwa town in Amethi district in north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where the government is developing a defence manufacturing hub.
President Putin is coming to India on December 6 to participate in India-Russia annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
“In an endeavour to provide a big boost to self-reliance in defence manufacturing in India, the government has approved the plan for production of over five lakh (over half a million) AK-203 assault rifles at Korwa, Amethi UP,” said an official source.
The source said it reflected the ever increasing paradigm shift in defence acquisition from buy (global) to Make in India.
“This endeavour will be done in partnership with Russia and reflects the deepening partnership between the two countries in the defence sector,” said the source.
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the Indo-Russia Rifle Factory more than two years ago in March 2019, both India and Russia failed to sign a firm contract due to the differences over the payment of royalty to Russia’s Kalashnikov Group, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
Indian Army, which faces a two-front war scenario with eastern neighbor China and northern neighbor Pakistan, had ordered more than 72,000 US made SiG 716 G2 7.62×51 mm assault rifles in 2019 as an interim measure under its emergency procurement powers to equip front-line troops.
Self-Reliant India in Defence
Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government launched its ambitious programme to make India self-reliance (Atma Nirbhar Bharat) in critical sectors including defence.
The government has also issued two negative list for import of defence items in its bid to encourage domestic production of defence hardware in the country.
According to the officials, the project will provide business opportunities to various MSMEs and other defence industries for supply of raw material and components, which will lead to generation of new employment opportunities.
“The project marks a significant stride towards making UP a key contributor in the ascendent defence manufacturing prowess of India,” they said.
Indian Army AK-203 Rifle
The 7.62 X 39mm caliber AK-203 Rifles will replace in-service INSAS Rifle inducted over three decades back.
AK-203 Assault Rifles, with an effective range of 300 meters, are light weight, robust and easy to use Modern Assault Rifles with proven technology that will enhance the combat potential of soldiers to adequately meet present and envisaged operational challenges.
They will enhance the operational effectiveness of the Indian Army in Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism operations.
Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited
The project will be implemented by a special purpose Joint Venture called Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd (IRRPL).
It has been created with erstwhile OFB [now Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL) and Munitions India Limited (MIL)] of India and Rosoboronexport (RoE) and concern Kalashnikov of Russia.