Indian soldiers to get new AK-203 assault rifles

Army soldiers will now finally get modern assault rifles in bulk. The long-pending project to manufacture over six lakh AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles at the Korwa ordnance factory in Amethi district of UP has kicked off.

Kalashnikov AK-203 rifles for Indian armed forces are currently under manufacturing and testing stage at an Indo-Russian joint venture at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh, the government said on Monday. Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, said the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd (IRRPL) has established all facilities to commence production of the indigenised assault rifles.

"Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) is a joint venture company established for indigenous production of AK-203 Rifles. IRRPL has established all facilities to commence production of indigenised assault rifles at Korwa, Uttar Pradesh," Bhatt said.

"The rifles are currently under manufacturing and testing stage," he said.

Bhatt said indigenisation of AK-203 rifles will lead to self sufficiency in respect of assault rifles for Indian defence forces.

The indigenous defence projects listed by Bhatt included 155mm Artillery Gun system 'Dhanush'', Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, surface-to air missile system 'Akash', main battle tank 'Arjun', T-90 tank, T-72 tank, Cheetah helicopter and Advanced Light Helicopter Dornier Do-228.

Bhatt said various policy initiatives to encourage indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment in the country are aimed at reducing dependency on imports in the long run.

"The expenditure on defence procurement from foreign sources has reduced from 46 per cent of overall expenditure in 2018-19 to 36.7 per cent as per data till December, 2022," he said.

Replying to a question on the cost of procurement of Indian Air Force One aeroplanes, he said it cannot be disclosed.

"No information in this matter can be disclosed," Bhatt said.

To a separate question, he said India regularly interacts with friendly foreign countries (FFCs) to enhance defence industrial cooperation.

"The defence industrial cooperation with FFCs aims at development of new technologies, Research & Development, co-development and co-production, promotion of defence exports, establishment of joint-ventures, integration of Indian MSMEs and start-ups in global supply chain," he said.