The made in India AK-203 assault rifle has much better performance parameters than the INSAS rifles and will significantly enhance combat capabilities of Indian soldiers in counter-terrorism and conventional operations, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.
“The rifle also possesses remarkably improved performance parameters as compared to the INSAS rifle. Using INSAS rifle for the longest time, our soldiers have had to face several issues such as gun jamming, oil drips during combat, and frequent breakages in its magazines. Taking cognizance of this issue, the NDA government made it a priority to upgrade and gradually replace the handheld firearms,” the Minister said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Sitharaman, who initiated the project during her Moscow visit in April last year, said that with an effective range of 300 metres and increased lethality and higher accuracy, “the AK 203 rifle will add substantial firepower to our armed forces and bolster the combat capabilities of our soldiers in different scenarios, whether in counter-terrorists or conventional operations.”
She said the acquisition of these rifles by the armed forces would be in “consonance with the government’s aim to enhance defence preparedness.”
On March 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the plant that will produce 7.5 lakh AK-203 assault rifles at Kauhar in Amethi as part of a joint venture between world-renowned arms manufacturer Kalashnikov and Ordnance Factory Korwa.
The factory will produce around 7.5 lakh of the most advanced rifles, the AK 203. This is a successor of the historic AK 47 which continues to be in service in many militaries across the world.
“The rifle will be manufactured employing improved metallurgy thereby achieving lighter weight (3.85 kgs), shorter length (932 mm) and modern ergonomics,” the Minister said.
Sitharaman also said the manufacturing of AK-203 in Amethi is a glowing example of India’s robust foreign relations and political determination to provide "our forces with the world-class equipment under the Modi government."
“India will also be the first nation, outside Russia, to be equipped with the advanced AK-203 rifles. Prime Minister Modi and President Putin guided their respective teams to work together to launch the joint-venture, adhering to strict timelines without compromising on due diligence,” she added.
“The rifles produced at the plant will be 100 per cent ‘Made in India’ within the next three years. The ‘transfer of technology’ worked out in the deal with Russia emphasises capacity and capability building within India to ensure that all parts of the AK-203 are produced locally,” said Sitharaman.
Taking a dig at Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Sitharaman said though the foundation stone of Ordnance Factory Korwa was laid by him in 2007, “The performance of Ordnance Factory Korwa from 2007 to 2014 has been lackluster. It was sanctioned in 2007 with a budget of Rs 408.11 crore. However, due to administrative issues under the UPA government, only Rs 318.36 crore has been invested in the establishment.”
The AK-203 manufacturing plant will use together with the new plants and machinery all the existing facilities of OF Korwa which have remained under-utilised.