India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated an Indo-Russian joint venture (JV) on Sunday that will produce the new Kalashnikov AK-203 rifle in Korwa, near Amethi.
In the third week of February, New Delhi and Moscow signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to build the AK-203 in India. The contract is still to be signed but the first of an estimated 750,000 AK-203 rifles are expected to roll off the production line in 2019.
“During my official visit to India last October … Mr Modi and I have reached agreement on setting up Kalashnikov production in this country. The IGA was prepared and signed in the shortest time, “said the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in a message that was read out during the signing ceremony.
The JV incorporates the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which has a 50.5 percent stake; Kalashnikov, with a 42 percent stake, and Russia’s state-owned export agency, Rosobornoexport, owning the remaining 7.5 percent.
The AK-203, along with the US-origin Sig Sauer assault rifle, will replace the indigenous INSAS rifles and AK-47 rifles that Indian Army soldiers currently carry.