The manufacturing of AK-203 rifles will begin in India as the Centre has given the final clearance to the project that is a joint venture with Russia.
According to sources, the government has approved the plan for the production of over five lakh AK-203 assault rifles at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi. The decision to give the final clearance comes ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India on December 6.
The domestic manufacturing of rifles is crucial to meet the shortfall of small arms in the army, and it will also replace the old INSAS rifles.
The army’s requirement for assault rifles was expected to be met by the production of 6.71 lakh AK-203 rifles, to be manufactured in Korwa as a part of a joint venture with Russia, but the Make in India project faced delay.
As the project was delayed, the Indian Army purchased 72,000 Sig Sauer rifles from the US and placed another order for 72,000 rifles. Cost negotiations were one of the main reasons for the delay.
The 7.62 X 39mm caliber AK-203 rifles will replace the INSAS rifle that was inducted over 30 years back. The rifle has an effective range of 300 meters and is lightweight. They will enhance the operational effectiveness of the Indian Army in Counter Insurgency and Counter-Terrorism operations.
As per the plan, 20,000 rifles will be brought from Russia directly and then over 5 lakh will be manufactured in India. The project will provide business opportunities to various MSMEs and other defence industries for the supply of raw materials and components, which will lead to the generation of new employment opportunities. The project marks a significant stride towards making UP a key contributor to the defence manufacturing prowess of India. It may be recalled that the much ambitious project of the Uttar Pradesh government to establish a Defence Corridor in the state has also come a long way.
Moreover, 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.