Govt clears ₹5,100-cr project to make AK-203 rifles with Russia in Amethi
NEW DELHI: The government has cleared a plan for the joint production of more than 500,000 AK-203 assault rifles with Russia to boost self-reliance in the defence manufacturing sector. The decision comes ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India on December 6 for an annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by PM Modi, on Wednesday approved the ₹5,100-crore project to jointly manufacture the rifles at a facility in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi.
“The approval reflects the paradigm shift in defence acquisition from buy (global) to Make in India. The endeavour also reflects the deepening partnership between the two countries,” said one of the officials.
The AK-203 assault rifles will replace the in-service INSAS rifles inducted more than three decades ago.
“The project will provide business opportunities to various Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and other defence firms for supply of raw material and components, which will lead to the generation of new employment opportunities,” he said.
The project will be implemented by a special purpose joint venture called Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd (IRRPL). It has been created with the erstwhile OFB (now Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited and Munitions India Limited) of India, and Rosoboronexport and Kalashnikov of Russia.
Last month, the defence acquisition council (DAC) – India’s apex military procurement body – granted some key approvals to accelerate the acquisition of AK-203 assault rifles to be made in India with the transfer of technology from Russia.
Putin’s visit to India will have a major defence and security overhang. The delivery of the first squadron of S-400 air defence systems – part of a $5.4-billion contract with Russia for five systems – is expected to coincide with Putin’s visit.
India and Russia last week announced they will hold the maiden 2+2 dialogue of their defence and foreign ministers on the margins of the annual summit between Modi and Putin.
This will only be Putin’s second foreign visit since the Covid-19 outbreak – he travelled to Geneva in June for his first meeting with US President Joe Biden. Putin’s decision to travel to New Delhi reflects the importance attached by Russia to its special and privileged strategic partnership with India.
India and Russia are also expected to renew their military-technical cooperation arrangement for the period 2021-31 and sign several defence-related agreements during the summit. A key pact that could be inked is the Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS), which will allow militaries of the two nations to access logistics and support facilities at each other’s bases.