The India-Russia joint venture to produce AK-203 assault rifles for the Indian Armed Forces has produced the first batch of rifles for the Indian Army. This was announced by Rosoboronexport on January 17. The Indian Army has a requirement for about 671,000 rifles.
The joint venture, named Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL), is between India’s Advanced Weapons & Equipment India Limited (AWEIL) and Munitions India Limited (MIL) and Rostec subsidiaries Kalashnikov and Rosoboronexport of Russia.
The IRRPL facility at the Korwa Ordnance Factory was inaugurated by Prime minister Narendra Modi in March 2019. However, negotiations between India and Russia were slow. This led to 70,000 rifles being procured in a fast track mode from Russia, primarily for the Indian Air Force. An agreement was signed in December 2021 for producing 601,427 rifles.
According to The Print, the initial batch of 5,000 rifles will have an indigenous content of 5% which will be increased to 70% when the first 70,000 rifles are manufactured in 32 months. The firm plans to ensure 100% localization of the production of AK-203 rifles in India with transfer of technology as mandated by India.
Alexander Mikheev, Director General of Rosoboronexport, said in a statement:
“Korwa Ordnance Factory in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, has produced the first batch of 7.62 mm Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles. The beginning of deliveries to the Indian Army is expected soon. At the same time, the factory’s capacity makes it possible to fully equip the personnel of other law enforcement agencies in India with AK-203 assault rifles, which, due to their high adaptability, are suitable for various operators. In addition, the joint venture will be able to export its products to third countries.”
The AK-200-series assault rifles have retained all the advantages of the traditional AK pattern rifles; such as reliability, durability and ease of maintenance. However, this modern iteration has the ability to mount additional accessories such as advanced optics while also being more ergonomic. Sergey Chemezov, General Director of Rostec, said:
“Russia and India are linked by strong partnership relations. Military-technical cooperation between the two countries has resulted in the construction of the joint venture Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited. With the launch of series production of Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles, high-quality, convenient and modern small arms will begin to enter service with India’s defense and law enforcement agencies. The model combines excellent ergonomics, adaptability to different shooters and high performance characteristics, it is one of the best assault rifles in the world.”
India is now the first foreign nation to start producing the AK-200 series assault rifles, in accordance with its Make in India initiative. Other rifles may also be manufactured by the venture in the future.