New Delhi, As part of its modernisation process, the Indian Army is eyeing the Kalashnikov AK-103 7.62×51 mm assault rifles for its soldiers. The Army needs over 7,68,000 assault rifles for its soldiers.
According Russian news portal SputnikNews.com, senior Ministry of Defence officers along with a team of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) officials will be in Moscow later in April to visit Kalashnikov rifle works at Izhevsk to discuss fast-tracking the government to government agreement for licensed production of the upgraded Kalashnikov AK-103 7.62x51mm assault rifles in India.
“A group of officials from the Ordnance Factory Board of Trichy and Rifle Factory Ichapore will be in Russia on April 24 to assess the Kalashnikov rifle works at Izhevsk. Later on, a defence ministry official will visit Moscow to have detailed discussion with the Russians,” an industry source told SputnikNews.com.India plans to build the AK-103 7.62x51mm assault rifles under its “Make in India” initiative. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during her April 3-5 tour of Russia, had met her Russian counterpart General Sergei Shoigu and other senior defence officials. The two sides had discussed defence cooperation between the two countries and the steps required to bolster the same.
The AK-103 rifle magazine has a capacity of 30 bullets and weighs 4.1 kgs with bullets. The rifle can shoot in safe and full auto modes. The third generation of the Kalashnikov assault rifles and a modern version of the legendary AK-47, the AK-103 has a folding butt stock and can fire 600 rounds in one minute. The rifle can also carry a 40-mm under-barrel grenade launcher or a knife-bayonet.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Sitharaman, had on February 13, 2018 had given approval for procurement of 7.4 lakh assault rifles for the defence forces. The assault rifles will be “Made in India” under the categorisation of “Buy and Make (Indian)”, through both OFB and private industry at an estimated cost of Rs 12,280 crore. The DAC had also given its approval to procure light machine guns (LMGs) for the defence forces through the Fast Track Procedure at an estimated cost of over Rs 1,819 crore for the operational requirement of the soldiers deployed on the borders.
The Indian Army and Indian Air Force have also got the go ahead to procure 5,719 sniper rifles at an estimated cost of Rs 982 crore. The Indian Navy, too, has the green signal to enhance its anti-submarine warfare capabilities and get Advanced Torpedo Decoy Systems (ATDS) for the purpose. The “Mareech” system has been developed indigenously by Defence Research and Development Organisation and has successfully completed extensive trial evaluations. The “Mareech” systems will be produced by Bharat Electronics Limited, Bengaluru at an estimated cost of Rs 850 crore. The overall cost of the weapons approved is approximately Rs 15,935 crore.