Prime Minister Modi inaugurates India-Russia JV to build Kalashnikov rifles in Amethi - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 3 March 2019

Prime Minister Modi inaugurates India-Russia JV to build Kalashnikov rifles in Amethi

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 4th March 19

Taking a step towards equipping army soldiers with modern rifles, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated an Indo-Russian joint venture (JV) on Sunday that will manufacture the new Kalashnikov AK-203 rifle in Korwa, near Amethi.

In the third week of February, New Delhi and Moscow signed an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) to build the AK-203 in India. A contract is still to be signed, but the first of an estimated 750,000 AK-203 rifles are expected to roll off the production line in 2019.

“During my official visit to India last October… Mr Modi and I reached the agreement on setting up Kalashnikov production in this country. The IGA was prepared and signed in the shortest time”, said Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in a message that was read out during the signing ceremony.

The JV incorporates the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which has a 50.5 per cent stake; Kalashnikov, with a 42 per cent stake, and Russia’s state-owned export agency, Rosobornoexport, owning the remaining 7.5 per cent.

The AK-203, along with the US-origin Sig Sauer assault rifle, will replace the indigenous INSAS rifles and AK-47 rifles that Indian Army soldiers currently carry.

Last month, the defence ministry cleared the procurement of 72,400 SIG716-G2 assault rifles from US manufacturer, Sig Sauer. That fast-track purchase is estimated to be worth Rs 700 crore.

The cost of the AK-203, which will include the cost of technology transfer and setting up manufacturing facilities in Ordnance Factory, Korwa, will be known only after the contract is negotiated.

In October 2017, the Army kicked off the acquisition of small arms (rifles, carbines and light machine guns) for its soldiers. Army chief, General Bipin Rawat, has decided to cut costs by equipping only frontline infantry soldiers with the most modern assault rifles, with advanced optics and sighting systems. The remaining soldiers will carry cheaper, less capable rifles.


  1. a very positive move by this govt, to close all key infantry arms contract in time. from helmets, BPJ's and now small weapons, all have made progress in the recent past. and without any controversy. besides movement is also there in artillery which is another key component in the newly proposed IBG's.

  2. A very good move. Finally we are making the original after importing Bulgarian knock offs for decades.
    If OFB/DRDO does not deliver , then manufacture SiG Seur 716 in India.

    This Govt has delivered more arms to Indian armed forces per rupee than ever before.

    I believe we will,sign another 3billion deal,with Russia to lease another Nuke Sub. Great move.

  3. Colonel a few questions

    1. What round is the AK 203 chambered in?
    2. Is the magazine for a AK 203 compatible with the SiG 716G2?
    3. Does this mean the official death of the MCIWS program?
    4. Is this a variant of the AK 103 or the AK 12?

  4. Long overdue..

    The cutting edge of Indian Army, that is, Infantry, will be equipped with Rifles of 7.62 X 52 NATO standard weapon system. The calibre is reliable and will meet the requirements of Infantry battles (longer ranges, more stopping power, assured damage, heaviers calibre to engage assorted hard targets and interchangeability of ammunition between crew weapons and personal weapons) .The same caliber would perhaps stand good for LMG, MMG and may be snipers too. Sufficient ammunition production ecosystem and stockpiles for this caliber exist in the country as also the Units.

    The Russian AK weapon system of 7.62 X 39 caliber planned to given to forces other than Infantry would also smoothly sail through on above criterias particularly for reliability, likeability and existing logistics ecosystem.

    The 5.56 X45 system being considered for submachine gun system may also meet the criterias of ease of induction, existing logistics infrastructure and achieving desired terminal effects. DRDO and OFB can penetrate into this void and outdo the UAE. Do they have it in them ?

  5. Col Ajai Shukla Sahib, we have made many working replica of AK- 203 which is copied from AK 101M, at Darra Adam Khel and within 48 hours our gunsmiths will make a copy to your modification.
    Why don’t you make the AK12 or AK 15, 7.62mm via Russians which may be better rifle. The AK-203 is better for armed police
    Your article in the Guardian was much appreciated in KPK, like all good Indians we Pakistanis just want peace.

  6. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF combat pilot who took down a Pakistani F-16,
    Will we hear an account of his MIG shooting down the Falcon (as claimed by the media) when he has made a full recovery. Logic says getting him to speak to the Press regarding the encounter will be our Government PR dream.
    The Wing commander is no less hero, even if he did not shoot the F16 this is neither here or there, he has showed INDIA that he has the integrity and bravery of an officer and gentleman. If most of our officers are like him, then INDIA does have the best in the world.
    The wing commander is a type of person who will not easily be forced to embroil himself in a web of deceit, and must be permitted to speak freely and truthfully of his extraordinary experiences at a Press Confrence, and is returned to his unit waiting A1G1 catagory. He will be happiest being with his unit, friends and family, flying again and making progress in his career. I am sure one day to see him eventually as a senior Air Force Officer.
    If the Wing Commander is given a decoration, his professional career is cut short and made to fade from public memory, because others have lied, the great Indian public should find this intolerable. The Air Force must must have the guts not to tolerate it too.
    But then perhaps he did shoot down the F16 and we will have the press confrence and he will be returned happily to his unit.

  7. ++++ "Critical Thinker said...
    Colonel a few questions
    1. What round is the AK 203 chambered in?
    2. Is the magazine for a AK 203 compatible with the SiG 716G2?
    3. Does this mean the official death of the MCIWS program?
    4. Is this a variant of the AK 103 or the AK 12?"
    1.) Russian 7.62x39 M1943
    2.) Nope. SiG 716G2 uses 7.62x51mm AKA .308NATO
    3.) ???
    4.) AK-103

  8. An absolutely STUPID MOVE!
    At the present day, incl AK-203 and SiG 716G2, Indian army uses :

    5.56x45NATO : 9 types of assault-riffles + 2 machinegun
    7.62x39ru : 5x assault-riffles
    7.62x51NATO : 3x assault-riffles + 5 snipers + 1 machinegun
    7.62x54ru : 1 sniper + 1 machinegun
    6.8x43SPC : 1 assault-riffle

    So... Why stupid? Totally bonkers logistics!!!
    What could have been done instead?
    French maker of FAMAS riffles closed its doors in 2001 : reductions of military budgets, nevertheless, FAMAS G2 is absolutely excellent and takes standard STANAG magazines (those on M16, M4, etc etc) unlike FAMAS F1.
    It would have been VERY easy to get the blue-prints, especially as a present with bigger aeronautics contracts that will be necessary any way.
    Other interesting riffles : Steyr Aug is public domain. Would need to be modified for STANAG magazines (this very important here) or license building the IWI Tavor X95 (it's modular so very cool in the case I consider). Another one deserving interest : a forgotten Soviet prototype, the TKB-022, at least to adapt its system, thust it'd need to raise the rate of fire.

    Now, let's give up with the usual calibres : 5.56x45NATO, 7.62x39ru, 7.62x51NATO, 7.62x54ru, 6.8x43SPC...
    Ballistics greatly improved since the 40's/60's and a single calibre can do the job of all these on the 28 TYPES of weapons using them!
    Here it is!
    It was conceived to allow serious hunting (deer, hog) using the most spread light carbine in the USA, the AR-15 (civilian M-16/M-4) and using its magazines. All you need is to change the barrel and the bolt
    Now, for sure, the diameter of the brass is 13.6mm instead of 9.6mm so you may not fit more than 20 rounds in a 30 rds mag for 5.56 but, since there are extended magazines of 45, 50, 60 and 100x 5.56...
    The Armatac SAW-Mag is a double-drum with 150x 5.56NATO => As for others, cut about the 3rd of capacity. Maybe some extended magz would have to be modified.

    Now, why considering only bullpup riffles?
    Simple : .243WSSM is even more accurate than Chris Kyle's favourite calibre (.300 Winchester-Magnum) at 1,000-1,100m, when using a 24" or 25" barrel.
    Consider FAMAS, it's 75.7cm long with a 48.8cm barrel, so, with a 24", it's only 87.86cm long and 90.4cm with a 25" barrel. A 100gr (6.5g) bullet flies 956m/s with 2,961J muzzle energy. The way the power burns in the brass and the lesser calibre makes recoil on par with 7.62x39ru, as bullets are faster, muzle energy is inferior to .308NATO but will have better energy conservation, so, at long range, it becomes better.

    So, from there, only a single assault riffle and a bolt-action sniper become necessary to replace 18 assault-riffles, 4 mchineguns and 6 snipers and ammos factories only need to produce 1 calibre instead of 5...

  9. Please give a detailed analysis of the AK 203 along with the analysis of its features and how it fares with the modern assault rifles especially along India's neighborhood.

  10. @Ravi Singh: more about the AK-200 series, from the technical POV :
    In other terms, AK-203 is an AK-74M in 7.62x39 M1943 (the AK-47 round) with modernised ergonomics and rails, but with more steel and less polymer than AK-12/15, so it's less advanced and heavier than what Russia went in.
    Nothing special or revolutionary : a good old cheap recipe revamped with more actual features.
    It's a bit sad India doesn't consider using a better caliber than the classic 5.56x45NATO; 7.62x39ru; 7.62x51NATO; 7.62x54ru. Ballistic science has made serious advances in the last 15-20 years.

    .243WSSM would really be the perfect calibre for military assault+battle riffles : it performs better than both, any 5.56 riffle w.STANAG magazine can be converted easily and if one considers the use of bullpups, you can have a true sniper-length barrel while the weapon is still very compact.
    Look at the results on videos :
    Moreover, it'd allow a unified caliber. Habitual riffle calibers may seem cheaper but, consider any Indian military expanding a 30 round magazine per week for training purposes, this would mean an order of more than 2 billions rounds a year. With such quantities, prices fall at the same level as more usual ones. The amusing point : at the very beginning of the 90's, considering the Afghan experience, Soviets were near from introducing a 6x49 unified new caliber to replace everything they used ;-)

  11. An add-on to my "An absolutely STUPID MOVE!" post :
    SMG/PDW/Pistol calibers replacement should be considered too!

    Some may remember the famous WW2 US-M1 Carbine and its select-fire version the M2. These used to shoot the .30carbine caliber (7.62x30). The rounds were pretty small : 41.91mm overall lenght, but these had 1,300J energy and were even used in some pistols like the AMT AutoMag-III.
    It has been used to create a wildcat cartridge, the .25 Garin (6.35mm)
    The muzzle energy with a 40cm barrel is about 1350J, so it's even better than the 5.45x39 M1974 used by AK-74/74M/74U etc at the very difference that since .25Garin being made to fit in modified M1/M2 carbines, it also fits into pistol-grips.
    .25Garin is just a little longer than 5.7x28FN used in the FN P90 : 1.41mm loner only.
    Based on this, it'd be feasible to adapt a multi-calibre modular weapon for this round. I mainly think about this one :
    Here we have a PDW in a H&K MP7 or Mini-Uzi form factor weighting 1.5kg that may be carried as a big pistol but even more efficient than an AK-74U. With a 21 cm barrel, it wouldn't be more longer than 38cm, nevertheless, IMHO, with polygonal rifling, the 18cm barrel would already be very nice.
    Being modular, a 40cm barrel would be available too in order to use it as an assault riffle.
    The small size of the round also allows to use small high capacity magazines and carry lots of rounds.

    Now, let's consider using the same .30carbine for a new wildcat cartridge : there are 240-250 grain .308NATO ones around. If the usual bullets are too big, let's consider using mostly tungsten (fragmenting?) ones since the goal would be kepin the same 41.91mm overall length bullets and these would be subsonic.
    At 320m/s, a 280gr bullet has 796J enery, a 250gr has 829J. Our tiny 7.62mm bullet is as powerful as a .357manum or the VSS Vintorez silence riffle.
    With a silencer, here you have a silenced riffle for Spec-Ops, suppression of sentries, etc. Spetsnaz were devastating using the VSS Vintorez on Chechen jihadists.

    Now think about it : many military personnel do not carry a riffle as they're not directly in firearms combat since they're are other tasks : pilots, truck/tank drivers, artillery, logistics, medical personnel, etc etc. S, it'll usually be a pistol, but... to be effective with a pistol, you need high training, while not so with a carbine, and, in case of ambush, you're outgunned by enturbaned loonies with AKs. Now just think about pilots ejecting behind the enemy lines, an effective survival weapon and preferably a non-noisy one. This would also be perfect for police, SWAT, room-to-room cleansing, urban warfare, etc.

    With it, I think that militaries could simply get rid from all the habitual SMGs, PDW and even pistols.
    A pistol could also be made, preferably only for the subsonic 7.62, so no need for something as heavy as the AutoMag-III. The 7.62 would have less recoil than .357 magnum and would also allow to be silenced (spec ops)


  12. Nevertheless, what do we have as needs if we consider these 2 calibres and the .243WSSM?
    - .243WSSM select-fire riffle doing as well the assault-riffle, the battle-riffle, the marksman riffle and the squad machinegun while not being bigger than a H&K 416 when carrying the long 64cm barrel allowing to shoot at 1km+

    - .243WSSM bolt-action riffle for super-high accuracy job.

    - Adapting the XM214 Microgun for .243WSSM : 10.2 kg for the gun body, normally 38.6kg complete with tripod, integral battery unit, feed chute and 1000x 5.56 rounds of ammunition in container. Here we have something to mount on vehicles, helicopter doors, etc, way more devastating than usual single barrelled 4.62x51 or 7.62x54ru machineguns. The classic M134 Minigun weights 30kg for the body alone

    - A modular PDW around the size/weight/form-factor of the H&K MP7 and a bit more efficient than AK-74U short assault riffle due to .25Garin, longer barrel allows AK-74M job, while the 7.62 heavy subsonic calibre +silencer compares to VSS Vintorez, AS Val, AK-9, AMB-17, AM-17, SR-3M Vikhr, 9A-91, OTs-12 Tiss, OTs-14 Groza

    - Eventually a pistol, the 7.62subsonic having as much punch as 357 magnum and allowing silencer and high capacity magazines.

    => Here we get rid of 18 types of assault riffle, 4 types of machineguns and 7 types of snipers, 7 types of SMG/PDW and 4 types of pistols for one type of each (and I have just reviewed what the classic army uses, there are many other types of armed forces in India). It doesn't includes high caliber sniper/anti-material riffles/machineguns. Note that at it, although it may need tests, the .408 CheyTac could be pretty interesting : it's beating world record after world record in long range accuracy. Special forces having special needs and in few quantities, I haven't considered their gear.

    => There are systems like the French FELIN that allow to have deported sighting in the helmet or on your chest, so is the Tracking Point Inc's “Precision Guided Firearms” : both in their domain can be serious force-multipliers.


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