The Indian Air Force has signed an agreement to buy 70,000 AK-103 assault rifles from Russia as part of an emergency procurement, news agency ANI reported on Saturday. The newly acquired weapons, which will be used to replace the existing arsenal of INSAS rifles currently in use, are likely to arrive as early as in the next few months, the agency reported, adding that the new weapons are expected to bring a marked upgrade in India's combat abilities to tackle terrorist attacks in a much better way.

"The contract worth around ₹300 crore was signed last week under emergency provisions to buy 70,000 AK-103 assault rifles from Russia," a government official familiar with the development informed the ANI news agency. "The weapons would be first provided to troops in field areas like Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar along with sensitive air bases.

India has been looking to augment its defence capabilities in recent years, the need hastened by the recent skirmishes against Chinese troops at the eastern Ladakh front. Around 1.5 lakh US-made Sig Sauer rifles and 16,000 Negev Light Machine Guns (LMGs) have already been provided to Indian troops out on the front, while all the basic weapons currently in use by the armed forces are being modernised.

AK-103 Assault Rifle: Upgraded Version of The Legendary AK-47

The AK-103 assault rifle is an upgraded version of the legendary and deadly AK-47 rifles. Only the Marine Commandos of the Indian Navy currently use the AK-103 rifles, such as in operations at the Wular lake in Kashmir valley, where the elite unit is deployed. However, with the procurement of the new AK-103 riles, more troops within the armed forces will be able to use these rifles now, allowing them to fill the critical gaps in their preparedness in war-fighting.

The AK-103 rifles would also be provided to the Garud special forces, who are deployed across the country at several different air bases.

More Advanced AK-203 Assault Rifles To Be Acquired Soon

According to the official cited by the agency, India and Russia are expected to sign another deal later to produce the even more advanced AK-203 assault rifles. The contract for the AK-203 assault rifles is being processed under the Indian Army, which requires around 6.5 lakh of these rifles to strengthen its troops' firepower, they said.

Weapons Requirements

The Indian Air Force, on the other hand, has a requirement of over 1.5 lakh new assault rifles, a part of which will be met by the new AK-103 weapons arriving in a few months. Earlier, a portion of this requirement was when the IAF acquired 4,000 Sig Sauer assault rifles, as part of a broader contract procured under the Indian Army.

The requirement for upgraded personal weapons has been felt by the IAF for a long time but the process gained speed post-Pathankot attack in 2016. The IAF now also lays a lot of stress on the personal combat capabilities of its troops along with using their technical abilities.

The Indian armed forces have the freedom to choose the weapons they want to buy and these can be acquired under the emergency procurement route which allowed them to get deliveries within one year. These emergency procurements have allowed the troops to fill the requirement in their combat abilities as required to better meet security needs across the country and beyond.