New Delhi: The central government has appointed a Major General of the Indian Army as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Korwa Ordnance Factory in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district, which will manufacture AK-203 assault rifles for the military under an Indo-Russia joint venture.
Sources told ThePrint this is the first time in decades that a uniformed officer will head a factory which comes under the Ordnance Factory Board. The move, they said, is the brainchild of Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, and the government accepted it as an experiment.
Major General Sanjeev Sengar has been appointed as CEO of the Korwa factory for a four-year period, and will head a team which will feature a few other serving officers.
The Army has been concerned over low quality and delivery problems when it comes to ordnance factories’ products, so if this new model for the AK-203 factory is successful, it might just pave the way for a new set-up to oversee such factories.
A significant venture
When the joint venture, called the Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited, was formed earlier this year under the Make in India initiative, the idea was to have an Indian CEO from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
The OFB has a 50.5 per cent stake in the venture, Kalashnikov owns 42 per cent and Rosoboronexport owns 7.5 per cent.
The Russian AK-203 rifle, chambered to fire 7.62×39 mm ammunition (same as the AK-47), is expected to meet the Indian Army’s requirement for 6.5 lakh assault rifles.
This is in addition to the rifles ordered from US manufacturer SIG Sauer in January.
The new guns will replace the 5.56×45 mm INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifles, which have been in use for over two decades.
The three services are set to spend at least Rs 12,000 crore to equip their personnel with modern rifles and light machine guns.
Incidentally, while every Indian soldier carries the INSAS rifle, the Army has a concept of sector stores, under which those operating in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast are given AK-47s instead of the INSAS.