India, Russia Jointly Inaugurated Kalashnikov Assault Rifle Factory
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India, Russia Jointly Inaugurated Kalashnikov Assault Rifle Factory

By IndraStra Global News Team

Image Attribute: 7.62X39mm Kalashnikov AK-203 Assault Rifle

Image Attribute: 7.62X39mm Kalashnikov AK-203 Assault Rifle

On March 3, 2019, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi inaugurated a manufacturing facility at Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) Korwa, Amethi in the state of Uttar Pradesh to license build 750,000 AK-203 Kalashnikov assault rifles (a 7.62x39mm variant from the AK-100 family) for its military to be built by a joint venture led by India's OFB and Russian Avtomat Kalashnikov under the name Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL). The talks between India and Russia on the production of Kalashnikov rifles (in India) started back in 2015.

While the OFB will have a 50.5 percent stake in the venture, Kalashnikov will have 42 percent and Rosonboronexport will have 7.5 percent. The AK-203 will replace the 5.56×45 mm Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles, which have been in use for over two decades.

In his statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "I express my gratitude to my friend President Vladimir Putin, this venture was made possible in such a short time by his support.” 

In turn, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his message which was read out by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the foundation ceremony. 

“During my official visit to India last October… Mr. Modi and I reached the agreement on setting up Kalashnikov production in this country. The inter-governmental agreement (IGA) was prepared and signed in the shortest time." The message further read, “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 defense-industrial sector will have the opportunity to fulfill the needs of national security agencies in this category of small arms, resting upon advanced Russian technologies.” Putin hailed the plant as a new symbol of friendship and constructive cooperation between Russia and India, the two traditional allies.

The officials pointed out that about 50,000 AK-203 rifles will be directly imported for the Indian Army (IA) over the next few months to meet urgent operational requirements, following which the JV is expected to manufacture 70,000 units per year until the entire contract is completed under New Delhi's 'Make in India' initiative.

Last month, the India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) cleared the procurement of 72,400 SIG716-G2 assault rifles from US manufacturer, Sig Sauer. That fast-track purchase is estimated to be worth Rs 700 crore.

General specifications of AK-203:

  • Caliber- 7.62×39mm
  • Action – Gas operated, rotating bolt locking mech.
  • Length- 880-940mm, 705 (stock folded)
  • Barrel length- 415mm (16.5inch)
  • Weight- 4.1KG with empty mag.
  • The rate of fire- 600 rounds
  • Magazine capacity- 30 round
  • Effective Range- 500m with iron sight, 800m with a 4X scope.