According to defence officials, the implementation of the purchase for 6.1 lakh Ak-203 assault rifles negotiated with Russia last July has been postponed by at least a few months due to the current conflict in Ukraine.
Retrials with ammunition from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in Russia were slated to take place in the first half of February as part of pre-production preparations, according to two defence sources. However, one of the sources indicated that they had been delayed by at least 3-4 months due to the current scenario.
Manufacturing of rifles will begin following the trials, it has been learned, while production activities continue.
Following repeated delays in the procurement of Ak-203 assault rifles, India struck a deal in August for 70,000 Ak-103 assault guns to be procured off the shelf. Officials stated that the distribution of these rifles had been finished.
A repeat order for 72,400 SIG-716 assault rifles from Sig Sauer has been delayed, and more than two officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, claimed it is likely to be cancelled. According to Alexander Mikheev, Director General of Rosoboronexport, manufacture of the AK-203 rifles at the plant in Uttar Pradesh is expected to start in a few months and achieve full scale production in 2-3 years.
Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd (IRRPL), a joint venture based in Korwa, Amethi, to produce over 6.1 lakh Ak-203 assault rifles worth over 5,000 crore. IRRPL was founded in collaboration with India’s old OFB [now Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited and Munitions India Limited] and Russia’s RoE and Kalashnikov.
Make in India
The first 70,000 AK-203 rifles would be made in India, with a gradual increase in localization from 5% to 70%. The rest of the firearms will be made entirely in the United States. A sophisticated production line has been created, as well as a small arms range where factory and acceptance rifle tests will be conducted.
The Defence Ministry bought 72,400 SIG-716 assault rifles under Fast Track Procurement (FTP) in February 2019 with Sig Sauer of the United States, the majority of which were for the Army and have been supplied to frontline troops engaging in counter-insurgency operations.
According to one of the sources referenced above, the agreement is in the Request For Proposal (RFP) stage and was approved by the Competent Financial Authority (CFA) on February 22.
However, given the emphasis on developing domestic manufacturing, there is a push for the lawsuit to be dismissed, according to the source.
The Army has already received the first batch of 72,400 SIG-716 assault rifles.