Russia-Ukraine War: Will India Still Manufacture The Russian AK-203 Assault Rifle?
- The AK-203, like the AK-103, can be equipped with a variety of sights, including as night vision and telescopic sights, as well as a knife-bayonet or grenade launcher, such as the GP-34.
- Last July, Moscow and New Delhi signed a contract in which India would manufacture the AK-203 assault rifle as part of a joint venture, the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited, as part of India’s aspirations to build more military gear domestically.
India has been the only major US ally not to denounce Russia since it launched an aggressive invasion of Ukraine last month. India also voted negative on the UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the Russian invasion, stating that sanctions aren’t the answer. New Delhi, on the other hand, has urged the two warring parties to return to the negotiating table.
India’s action was expected.
India maintained its particular relationship with Moscow even as it moved closer to the West after forging strong ties with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The AK-203 is an Indian-made rifle.
Last July, Moscow and New Delhi signed a contract in which India would manufacture the AK-203 assault rifle as part of a joint venture, the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited, as part of India’s aspirations to build more military gear domestically. The transaction has now been postponed for at least six months due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which India media has labelled as a “ongoing issue.”
Outside of Russia, India would be the first country to start producing the AK-203.
The 7.62x39mm cartridge is chambered in the gas-operated, magazine-fed, select-fire assault rifle, the same ammunition used in the ubiquitous AK-47 and AKM assault rifles, which were reputedly created by Mikhail Kalashnikov during the early phases of the Cold War. The AK-203 is the most recent assault rifle in the AK series, and it’s an enhanced variant of the AK-103, which Kalashnikov created in 1994.
The AK-203, like the AK-103, can be equipped with a variety of sights, including as night vision and telescopic sights, as well as a knife-bayonet or grenade launcher, such as the GP-34. A Picatinny rail is included, allowing for the attachment of extra accessories. To save weight, the AK-103/203 makes use of plastic components instead of wood or metal whenever practical.
Despite the “Ukraine Crisis,” moving forward.
In December, Alexander Mikheev, director-general of Rosoboronexport – Russia’s sole state intermediary agency for defense-related and dual-use products, technologies, and services – told The Hindu news outlet that production of the AK-203 rifles at the plant in Uttar Pradesh would likely start early this year and reach full-scale production within two to three years.
A sophisticated production line has already been created, as has a small arms range where assault rifle manufacture and acceptance testing will be conducted. The first 70,000 AK-203 rifles will be made in India, with a steady increase in the amount of “localization” of components from five to seventy percent.
A total of 600,000 rifles will be manufactured in India, answering the demands of New Delhi’s Make in India and Self-Reliant India initiatives.
“We anticipate that the AK-203 will be produced in the near future. The contract is currently undergoing strictly technical finishing touches,” Russia’s envoy in New Delhi, Denis Alipov, told Russian media last week.
India has been perceived as hedging its bets, despite the fact that the deal to domestically build the AK-203 rifles for its military is most likely to move forward. In February 2019, the Indian Defence Ministry inked a Fast Track Procurement agreement with Sig Sauer of the United States to purchase 72,400 SIG-716 assault rifles (FTP).
The order was subsequently quadrupled in 2020, and weapons were delivered to the Indian Army and frontline troops participating in counter-insurgency operations. According to reports, the guns have been modified to meet “local needs.”
The SIG-716 and AK-203 rifles will be used to replace the existing Indian Small Arms System (Insas) 5.556x45mm rifles made by the Ordnance Factories Board.
With more than 1.2 million active troops, India has the world’s second-largest standing army, and it has been undergoing a comprehensive firearms procurement process to improve the capabilities of its infantrymen.