The joint venture to produce Kalashnikov rifles at a factory in Amethi was the `fastest ever’ created by Russia for an Indian venture and had `firm political will’ from the highest levels on both sides, a senior Russian official has said, adding that orders to produce the small arms are likely to be placed shortly.
The Amethi factory, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March this year, weeks before the election, will produce the AK 203 assault rifles that are to be the mainstay of the Indian Army in the years to come.
While the factory is getting functional with the supply of equipment needed to manufacture the rifles, the Army is yet to place an order for the AK 203 with Russian officials saying that technical and commercial proposals are likely to be submitted by the end of this month.
“It is for the first time in Indian history with Russia that we have done such a work so fast..in setting up the joint venture under Indian law and signing the agreements. There was firm political will at the very high level and we were strongly supported on this,” Vladimir Drozhzhov, Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation said.
The official said that the Army tender for over 6 lakh rifles have been received by the joint venture and is being responded to. Sources told ET that 6.7 lakh rifles are to be made at the Amethi factory in the first phase, which is likely to be expanded significantly over the next few years.
The project is expected to produce AK 203 rifles that will cost close to $ 1000 each and there will be options to export these to friendly foreign nations in the future too. These rifles will replace the INSAS assault rifles currently in service with the Army and are likely to be supplied to paramilitary forces in the future also.
The Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited joint venture for production of Kalashnikov assault is between India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Kalashnikov Group parented by Rostec.