The Russian Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifle is likely to become the primary rifle of the Indian Army. This was stated by the Indian Ambassador to Russia Datla Bala Venkatesh Varma in an interview with National Defense magazine. The plan is to fully localize A-203 production in the Indian city of Korwa in the next year and a half. Also, the Indians plan to procure all the materials needed for production in India. Although negotiations in this direction began in 2018, when they were announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, since then there have been disagreements over the price of permission for a more modern version of the indestructible “Kalashnikov” to be produced in India.
Until Indian production begins, 70,000 AK-203 rifles intended for the Indian Army will arrive in India from Russia in November this year. Namely, India and Russia recently concluded an agreement on the urgent procurement of 70,000 new AK 203 rifles with a caliber of 7.62 × 39 mm, according to a report by The Print, citing sources from the Indian defense industry.
The Russian AK-203 is supposed to replace the Indian assault rifle INSAS, which the army has been using since 1998 and no longer meets the needs of the Indian army. In particular, the small caliber of that 5.56 mm Indian weapon currently used by the military, navy and air force has been criticized. The transition to 7.62 mm caliber was commented by a source from the Indian army: “If you shoot at the enemy, he must be killed, not temporarily disabled,” Top War reports.
The Indian ground forces are already using some 70,000 SIG716 7.62 × 51 caliber rifles, rifles created by German-American cooperation. India bought this rifle under an accelerated procedure and so far there is no plan to completely replace it with the AK-203.
The Russian and Indian governments as well as Russian and Indian companies seem to have managed to find a “common language” this month when it comes to manufacturing in India itself. The Print claims that the production of 600,000 of these rifles in India by Indo-Russia Rifles, which is the result of a joint venture between the Indian OFB, the Kalashnikov concern and Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state military export agency, will soon begin.
The Russian company claims that their weapons have been tested in all weather conditions. The new rifle is reportedly versatile and adaptable, mostly due to the universal basic construction of the rifle on which it is easy to place various accessories, depending on the nature of the task: night and day sights, handles, lamps, lasers…
The AK-200 series rifles retained all the advantages of the original AK rifles: reliability, durability and easy maintenance. Compared to earlier rifles, the AK-203 has better ergonomics, precision and burst speed, the Russian company claims.