India to buy 70,000 assault rifles from Russia

New Delhi, August 23 (KMS): India has signed a deal for 70,000 AK-203 assault rifles to be procured off the shelf, while the Army is also looking at procuring limited number of helicopters off the shelf to meet immediate shortage of light utility helicopters. Meanwhile, Russia has carried out upgrades of the Ka-226T helicopter on offer, according to officials.

“The deal for the 70,000 rifles has been signed but the first payment is yet to be made. The deliveries would begin within three months once the first payment is made and be completed in six months,” officials from India and Russia confirmed. On the Ka-226T “Climber”, as the upgraded version is referred to, an official from Russian Helicopters said the redesigned helicopter has improved flight and technical characteristics.

The Army is looking at procuring over 7.5 lakh AK-203 rifles and the two countries had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) in February 2019 following which a joint enture — Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) — was set up at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh for manufacturing the rifles.

The JV is between between Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) from the Indian side and Rosoboron Exports and Kalashnikov on the Russian side. The Army had also appointed a Major General as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IRRPL to ensure timely execution and deliveries.

The Ministry of Defence has already floated a Request For Proposal (RFP) to the JV for the supply of 6.71 lakh rifles but the final deal has been held up over the high cost quoted.