The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugrated a Kalashnikov rifles manufacturing unit in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh Sunday.
The Indo-Russia Rifles Pvt Limited unit, a joint venture between New Delhi and Moscow, at the Korwa Ordnance Factory will manufacture the AK-203 rifles.
India has signed a deal with Russian firm Kalashnikov for the manufacture of 750,000 AK-203 assault rifles.
The latest derivative of the AK-47 assault rifles would be handed over to the infantry troops of the Indian Army. According to senior government officials, these rifles would replace ageing INSAS assault rifles in the Army, Air Force and Navy, ANI reported.
After the Russian firm would supply the rifles to the defence forces, the government would provide these assault rifles to paramilitary and the state police forces.
India will also be exporting the rifles in future. "At first, the component would be exported but in the next three years, all the equipment would be manufactured locally, giving a boost to the employment," Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
The new rifle has an effective range of 400 metre and is lighter and shorter than the INSAS. Its magazine can hold 30 bullets. It can host an underbarrel grenade launcher or a bayonet and and all versions can be equipped with quick-detachable tactical sound suppressor. The 7.62mm ammunition in the gun is of NATO grade, hence more powerful. It can fire 600 bullets in a minute, and can be used in both automatic and semi-automatic mode.
The country also recently approved the purchase of 73,000 SIG716-G2 rifles from the US in a deal valued at $97 million (INR 700 Crore) to replace INSAS rifles, deliveries of which is likely to take place within a year.