With the contract inked on August 19, 2021, the Indian Army will buy 70,000 off-the-shelf Kalashnikov AK-203 7.62x39mm assault rifles from Russia.
The guns were reportedly purchased as part of an emergency procurement program to address the Indian Army’s immediate operational needs.
A program to procure around 770,000 new AK-203 assault rifles has been established, with at least 100,000 units to be imported from Russia and the rest to be license-produced by the Indo-Russian Rifles Pvt Ltd (IRRPL) at the Korwa Ordnance Factory in Uttar Pradesh as part of an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between India and Russia.
The IRRPL is 50.5 percent controlled by India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), 42 percent by the Kalashnikov Group, and 7.5 percent by Russia’s state-owned arms export agency Rosoboronexport.
The 70,000 assault rifles from Russia will be added to the 100,000 assault rifles pledged in previous agreements.
The AK-203 is the most recent iteration of the AK family of Russian assault rifles, and it retains much of the features of the original AK-47, such as robust mechanics and simplicity of operation, as well as having been tested in extreme heat and cold.
It now has improved ergonomics, accuracy, and rate of fire, as well as increased versatility thanks to a Picatinny rail pre-installed on the new rifles, which allows for the installation of rifle accessories such as optics, laser designators, and lights.
The AK-203 assault rifle, together with the SIG Sauer SIG716 7.62x51mm rifle, will replace the unpopular Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56x45mm assault rifle, which was believed to have problems when used at high elevations.