India, Russia sign deal to procure 70,000 AK-203 Assault Rifles
AK-203 is the latest version of the AK-47 rifle. These rifles will replace the 5.56×45mm Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles that are currently being used by the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force besides other security forces.
India and Russia on August 19, 2021 signed a deal for the immediate procurement of 70,000 AK-200 series assault rifles.
The agreement was signed at a time when both countries are working on a bigger project to jointly manufacture 6 lakh AK-203 rifles in India. The deal for the same has been pending since 2018.
India's initial plan was to directly import 20,000 of the 7.62×39mm AK-203 rifle and jointly manufacture around 6.5 lakh such rifles in India.
Due to delay in delay in joint production, there is an immediate need to procure the rifles off the shelf. The off-the-shelf equipment could include multiple variants of the AK-200 series, as the basic difference is the accessories that are fitted to the rifle.
•The procurement deal for the AK-203 Assault Rifles was signed between the Defence Ministry and Russian representatives in the presence of officials from Indo-Russia Rifles Pvt Ltd.
•Indo-Russia Rifles Pvt Ltd is a rifle manufacturing firm that will lead the indigenous production of AK rifles in India.
•The AK-200 series assault rifles are expected to start arriving in India from November 2021.
•AK-203 is the latest version of the AK-47 rifle. These rifles will replace the 5.56×45mm Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles that are currently being used by the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force besides other security forces.
•The AK-203 Assault Rifles are expected to become the mainstay of the armed forces for years to come.
•Besides this, the Indian armed forces use the American SIG716 rifles that were procured by the Army under a fast-tracked process.
•The frontline infantry soldiers will be equipped with American SIG716 rifle, while the remaining will be using AK-203 rifles
The Indian Army currently has a requirement of around 770,000 AK-203 rifles, among which about 100,000 are expected to be imported while the rest are planned to be manufactured in India. The current off-the-shelf procurement will be a part of 100,000 assault rifles.
Russia will provide the 70,000 AK-203 assault rifles to India in the next six months. A deal has also been finalised between India and Russia to upgrade Kamov lightweight multi-role military helicopters at India's requests to suit Indian conditions.
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