File photo of Russian AK-203 rifle | Commons
File photo of Russian AK 203 rifle | Commons
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New Delhi: The long-pending AK 203 rifles deal with Russia, under Make in India, has been finalised and a final contract is being legally vetted by both sides before the signing process, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said the production of the over 6 lakh rifles would begin by the end of this year, and that they have export potential as well.

Under the deal, the first 20,000 AK 203 rifles, which will be the mainstay of the armed forces for years to come, will be imported from Russia at a cost of about $1,100 (or Rs 80,000) a piece depending on the conversion rate.

The rest of the guns are to be manufactured in India as part of a joint venture — Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited — established between the Indian Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Kalashnikov Concern, and Rosoboronexport, the Russian state agency for military exports. While OFB has a 50.5 per cent stake in the joint venture, Kalashnikov has 42 per cent and Rosoboronexport 7.5 per cent.

The cost of these Make in India rifles would be a “little less” than what the imported ones will cost, the sources said, refusing to get into specifics.

The deal was first announced in 2018 amid tremendous excitement, but hit a roadblock over price negotiations, with the OFB quoting a higher price than the Russian product because of the extra man hours it would take and other issues.

The defence ministry had even constituted a committee to break this logjam.

The delay had forced the Army to order SiG 716 rifles from the US under a fast-tracked process to arm its frontline troops. With 72,000 SiG rifles already delivered, the Army is now pursuing emergency procurement of another 72,000.

“The contract for AK 203 is undergoing legal vetting and would be inked very soon,” a source said.

ThePrint had reported on 13 August that the AK 203 production has become a top priority for the Narendra Modi government and every effort is being made to get it going fast.


Also read: India withdraws from Russia military exercise, participation of China & Pakistan a factor


A modern assault rifle

The AK-203 is one of the most modern assault rifles from the stable of Kalashnikov Concern, which churns out the famous AK-series rifles, including AK-47.

The rifle is chambered to fire 7.62×39 mm ammunition (same as the AK-47).

The new rifles will replace the 5.56×45 mm INSAS (Indian Small Arms System), which have been in use for over two decades.

Compared to the AK-103, which was originally meant for joint production, the AK-203 comes with collapsible stock that can be adjusted according to the shooter’s height.

There is a different safety mechanism for the rifle, because of which the soldier does not have to lose contact with the grip when changing firing modes during an operation.

There is also a new flash hider that comes handy when the assault rifle is used with night vision, as flash from the firing of a bullet can hamper visibility.

The rifle comes with a new barrel and also an interchangeable magazine with the standard 30 and 50 rounds.

The AK 47 magazine can be used with the AK 203.

Interestingly, the government had appointed Major General Sanjeev Sengar as the CEO of the Amethi factory where the rifles would be manufactured.

The decision to appoint a serving Major General as the Amethi factory’s CEO is a first in decades for the Army.

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 facilities.


Also read: China building missile sites near Doklam, Naku La ‘clash zones’, satellite images show


 

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Bloody idiot we r buying with money, those assault rifles will be produced in India only u paki’s are professional beggars in front of china.

  2. Why India needs Russian Technology to make rifles. Indian companies can easily develop better rifles with in-house capabilities. Tata, Mahindra, L&T all are making good weapons so why now depend on Russian Technology and pay for technology transfer. For every rifle made will have to pay royalty to Russia.

  3. Our inability to take decisions in defence matters is mainly due to lack of professionalism in our armed forces,where sycophancy, not professional competence is the essential quality for moving ahead. Also, why cant we allow the OFB to fade into sunset, not recruiting anymore, just allowing them to produce basic goods where quality is not important ? For the oldest Asian body ( almost 220 years old) that produced modern military hardware, forget developing newer products, they have a very pitiable record of producing quality equipment of even old technologies. Instead,we should encourage our reputed Pvt.sector Cos. to develop,with foreign collaboration if necessary, advanced military hardware. Punj Lloyd is producing rifles for theIsraeli army, professionally one of the most reputed armies in the world, but its not good enough for us ? Another Co. SSS Defence also has produced assault rifles in India, why cant we encourage these Cos. too ?

  4. As usual, the local production agencies ( OFB) acted as a spoilsport and delayed things by some 2 years. The same thing happened to the Rafale deal when in 2013 HAL gave a very high costing and scuppered the deal HAL also betrayed lack of confidence in their own capabilities by insisting on a performance guarantee for all 126 Rafales , even those built by them. MOD needs to come down heavily on such laggards and penalise them for delays in the projects.

  5. The Ak203 must be compared with Ak -19 and upgraded to suit indian conditions . Instead of rivets the gun must be built with latest German CNC and milling machines. With Chinese in Ladakh an immediate requirement to requip 3 divisions in Ladakh must be placed on the Russians to supply 60000 rifles with 45 to 60 days.

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