Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to arrive in India today to hold the 21st annual India-Russia summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This will be the first in-person meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin after their meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brasilia in November 2019.
The two countries would be inking a major deal worth over Rs 5,100 crore for producing AK-203 assault rifles within the country. The AK-203 rifles will replace INSAS rifles inducted more than three decades ago. The Indian Army is expected to acquire 7.5 lakh of these rifles.
The Defence Acquisition Council had cleared a $687.7 million deal to manufacture AK-203 assault rifles in India, in partnership with Russia last month. The new signing means the AK-203 rifles will replace the Indian Army’s standard-issue 7.62 mm INSAS rifles.
Take a look at what the new deal entails and why the new weapon will add firepower to the Indian Army soldier.
AK-203 rifle and deal with India
The AK–203 is a gas-operated, magazine-fed, select-fire assault rifle designed to chamber 7.62×39mm cartridge.
The firearm, originally known as AK-103M was renamed AK-203 in 2018 and was originally designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov.
It is considered to be the latest and most advanced version of the AK-47 rifle.
According to experts, the Russian rifle is reliable, durable and easy to maintain. It also has better ergonomics, accuracy and density of fire.
Negotiations for the AK-203 rifle began in 2018 but issues over pricing and transfer of technology stalled talks.
However, finally, the much-awaited deal has been cleared and it will formally be signed next month when Russian president Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit India.
According to the deal, the first 20,000 AK-203 rifles, which will be the mainstay of the armed forces, replacing the 5.56×45 mm INSAS (Indian Small Arms System), will be imported from Russia at a cost of about $1,100 (or Rs 80,000) per piece.
Then, as many as 6,01,427 AK203 assault rifles will be manufactured at a plant set up in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh by the Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited — a joint venture of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) of India and the Kalashnikov Concern and Rosoboronexport of Russia.
Replacing INSAS rifles
The INSAS or Indian Small Arms System is designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and was inducted into the forces in the 1990s.
The INSAS has a chrome-plated bore and the barrel has a six-groove rifling. The basic gas-operated long-stroke piston and the rotating bolt are similar to the AK-47.
The INSAS assault rifle was significantly used during the 1999 Kargil War.
As per reported information, troops often complain of the tendency of the INSAS rifle to jam and its transparent magazine cracking in freezing temperatures.
Furthermore, the INSAS rifle, with its smaller 5.56×45mm calibre bullets, is more aimed at injuring rather than neutralising the enemy.
Hence, the search for a better firearm.
A comparison of the AK-203 and the INSAS shows that the former is lighter, shorter and deadlier.
While the INSAS weighs around 4.25 kg without a magazine, the Russian rifle weighs 4 kg, making it easier to carry.
Additionally, while the INSAS has a superior rate of fire -- 650 bullets per minute -- than the Russian rifle (600 per minute), the Kalashnikov rifle is said to have near perfect accuracy. Also, the Russian rifle uses 7.62x39mm bullets compared to the 5.56×45mm bullets used by INSAS.
Let's hope that the Russian rifle becomes the trustworthy weapon of our soldiers.
With inputs from agencies