Defence Current Affairs: Defence Ministry on November 23, 2021 approved a Rs 5,000 crore deal with Russia to manufacture 7.5 lakh AK-203 assault rifles in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi. The approval has come through just ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India.
The AK-203 assault rifles deal is expected to be signed during the Russian President’s visit. It was cleared by the defence acquisition council. The only step left now is resolving the issues on the transfer of technology.
AK-203 assault rifles deal: Key Highlights
•The AK-203 assault rifle is a Russian designed rifle and it will be manufactured in India in a factory in Amethi.
•India and Russia had begun talks to jointly manufacture AK-203 assault rifles in India way back in 2018 but the deal for the same had been pending.
•India is planning to make the AK-203 Assault Rifles a mainstay for the armed forces.
•Among the 7.5 lakh assault rifles to be acquired by India, the first 70,000 rifles will include Russian-made components as the transfer of technology takes place slowly.
•The initial batch of assault rifles is expected to be delivered to the Indian Army 32 months after the production process begins.
AK-203 assault rifles
AK-203 assault rifles are the latest version of the AK-47 rifle. These rifles will replace the 5.56×45mm Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles that are being used by the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force currently.
India and Russia had signed a deal for the immediate procurement of 70,000 AK-200 series assault rifles on August 19, 2021. The Indian Army has a requirement of around 770,000 AK-203 rifles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit India on December 6, 2021 for the Annual Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This would be Putin’s second foreign visit in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His first visit was to attend a summit-level meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva.
The Russian President had last visited India in 2018 for the Annual Summit during which the contract for the S400 system was signed between the two sides. The 2019 edition of the annual summit was postponed due to COVID-19.
Putin’s visit to India this time is expected to witness the signing of several pacts between India and Russia in multiple fields. It is also likely to coincide with the delivery of the first batch of the S400 air defence systems to India.