Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday, inaugurated Indo-Russian joint venture to manufacture AK-203 assault rifle. The Indo-Russian Rifles Pvt Ltd, a partnership between Indian Ordnance Factory Board and Russian Kalashnikov Concern, will manufacture around 7.5 lakh rifles which will go on to replace the INSAS rifle, the current standard issue to Indian soldiers. These guns are also expected to equip other Indian forces.
Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Modi thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for the partnership and said that these gun are going to strengthen Indian armed forces.
He also said that this development has been long delayed. He said that this delay in the production of modern rifles for our soldiers actually amounts to an injustice to the jawans.
Calling the guns as ‘Made in Amethi’ Modi, said that these rifles will strengthen Indian forces in the battle against the insurgents, terrorists and Naxal and will provide employment opportunity to the youth of the region.
The joint venture, as part of the UP defence corridor, is expected to give a boost to the corridor and self –reliance in defence.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during the event, read the message of the Russian President. “The new joint venture will manufacture world-famous Kalashnikov assault rifles of the newest 200 series and eventually will reach full localization of production. Thus, the Indian defence-industrial sector will have the opportunity to fulfil the needs of national security agencies in this category of small arms, resting upon advanced Russian technologies,” Putin said in his message.
“I am convinced that commissioning of the new enterprise will contribute to stronger defence potential of India, to further advance of the scientific and industrial basis of the national economy, will be instrumental in terms of creating new jobs for the qualified workforce, and will provide an impetus to professional education and personal training. The plant itself will become another symbol of friendship and constructive cooperation between our two countries,” he added.
As reported earlier by IDI, according to the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), Russia will provide technology, manufacturing know-how and special materials. The IGA allows the JV to export the guns to any third country as well.
The two sides have aimed at 100 per cent localization within the first two years of the project. Through the JV, two sides are looking at deeper cooperation, beyond just Transfer of Technology, including material based co-manufacturing, product-development and upgrade.
On February 8, Rosoboronexport, in a release, announced the launch of a global marketing campaign to promote the AK200 series.
“Export permits for the newest Kalashnikov AK200 series assault rifles have been obtained. From now on, Rosoboronexport may offer its partners the AK200, AK203, AK204 and AK205 versions, which will make their international debut at IDEX 2019,” said Rosoboronexport Director-General Alexander Mikheev.
Coming from the home of the legendary AK-47, AK-203 is an improved version of the AK series, which fires 7.62x39 mm bullets and allows all modern add-ons, including a variety of sight systems, target designators and under barrel grenades.