The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has given final approval for a deal with Russia to manufacture over six lakh AK-203 assault rifles in India, government sources confirmed on Saturday.
The deal estimated at over ₹5,000 crore is scheduled to be signed on December 6 during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to India.
“In an endeavour to provide a big boost to self-reliance in defence manufacturing in India, the government has approved the plan for production of over five lakh AK-203 assault rifles at Korwa, Amethi in U.P.,” a Government source said.
The 7.62 x 39 mm caliber AK-203 rifles will replace INSAS rifles inducted over three decades back. They have an effective range of 300 m and are lightweight, robust and easy-to-use modern assault rifles.
“They will enhance the operational effectiveness of the Indian Army in counter insurgency/counter terrorism operations,” the source stated.
Mr. Putin is scheduled to visit India on December 6 and 7 for the annual summit, during which the two countries will also hold the inaugural 2+2 ministerial dialogue.
The project will be implemented by Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd (IRRPL) jointly with the erstwhile OFB [now Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL) and Munitions India Limited (MIL)] of India and Rosoboronexport (RoE) and concern Kalashnikov of Russia.
India and Russia had signed an Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) for AK-203 rifles in February 2019 following which IRRPL, a joint venture, was set up. The Ministry of Defence already floated a Request For Proposal (RFP) to the joint venture for the supply of 6.71 lakh rifles but the final deal has been held up over the high cost for each rifle. The RFP has now been modified to 6.1 lakh after a recent deal for 70,000 rifles through the emergency route.