India and Russia are set to finalise a deal for AK-47 203 rifles, which will replace the Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56mm × 45mm assault rifle.
The deal will be finalised during Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s ongoing visit to Moscow, reported Russian news agency Sputnik.
The Indian Army has a requirement of around 770,000 AK-203 rifles. Around 100,000 units will be imported from Russia, while the remaining equipment will be manufactured locally.
The rifles will be manufactured in India by a joint venture (JV) called Indo-Russia Rifles (IRPL).
India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) will hold a 50.5% stake in the company, while the Kalashnikov Concern and Russian state agency for military exports Rosoboronexport will have 42% and 7.5% interests respectively.
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The rifles will be manufactured at the Korwa Ordnance Factory in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Indian Armed Forces are expected to use the weapons for counter-terrorism operations.
The INSAS 5.56mm × 45mm assault rifle has been used by the armed forces since 1996. However, the weapon is being replaced after complaints of jamming and magazine cracking at higher altitudes.
Notably, India is engaged in a military standoff with China in the Ladakh region. This has led to the mobilisation of troops and equipment build-up across the line of actual control (LAC) by both armies.
India has also accelerated investments in the defence sector to enhance capabilities.
The government recently signed contracts for Pinaka missile systems for the army.