Finally, after a long wait, India and Russia entered into an agreement for joint production of more than 6 lakh AK203 and signed a ₹5100crore deal. The deal was inked after a bilateral meeting between Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Defense Minister
On Monday, 6th December, after a bilateral meeting in New Delhi between the representatives of both countries, they concluded to enter into a joint production contract of AK203. The deal is to manufacture more than 6,00,000 AK203 assault rifles in the Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh. As per the sources, the deal is signed for 5100 crores and each rifle will cost around USD 930. As per today’s exchange rate, the rifles produced will be much cheaper than the global rates. The AK203 assault rifle shall incorporate royalty and ToT fees as decided by both parties. The rifles will be manufactured by Russia Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) and Advanced Weapons & Equipment India Ltd. (AWEIL) and Munitions India Limited (MIL) of India.
In the bilateral meeting held in New Delhi on Monday, both the countries, India and Russia entered into four different contracts. Firstly, a contract for procurement of 6, 01,427 AK-203 Assault Rifles 7.63X39mm through IRRPL. Secondly, the previous protocols agreement for cooperation in the field of Kalashnikov Series Small Arms Manufacturing made in 2019 was amended through a new contract. Another contract was made for the extension of the Military Technical Cooperation from 2021-2031. And the last contract was signed by the defense ministers for the protocol of the 20th IRIGC-M&MTC. All the contracts were inked by the defense ministers of both the countries in the presence of their leaders. The bilateral meeting included a maiden 2+2 ministerial dialogue between both countries.
As the deal has been finally cracked, the production of AK203 will start at Amethi based facility and almost 6 lakh rifles are expected to be delivered within the next 3 years. The AK203 rifles will replace the existing 5.56×45 mm INSAS (Indian Small Arms System). These assault rifles to be produced will be for the Indian Armed Forces primarily. Secondly, orders for AK203 will be placed for the Indian State police and central armed police forces.
The Reason Behind the Delay in the Deal
The negotiations for AK203 assault rifles are being made by both countries since 2018. But due to certain matters like Transfer of Technology (ToT), pricing, and indigenous content the deal could not be signed. But as soon as the Russians agreed not to take royalty and to the ToT of the AK203 clause, the cost of riffles decreased. Finally, after all the issues were resolved, the DAC under the chairmanship of defense minister Rajnath Singh gave its approval. Because of this delay, India had to purchase 70,000 AK103 rifles due to the ongoing standoff between the India and China.