AK-203: A Boost for the Army and Make in India

Virtually 10 years after the Navy expressed a sturdy must alternate the INSAS with a recent assault rifle, the federal authorities has zeroed in on AK-203 because the important weapon for the overwhelming majority of the Indian defence and security forces. The model new weapon, primarily probably the most superior mannequin of the well-known AK assortment of rifles, will possible be manufactured inside the nation by the Indo-Russian Rifles Pvt. Ltd, a Joint Enterprise (JV) between the Ordnance Manufacturing unit Board (OFB) and Russian companions. The AK-203 will not solely improve the Navy’s fireside power and morale nevertheless might also extra the Make in India initiative in defence manufacturing by the 100 per cent indigenisation of the rifle in just some years. The Ordnance Manufacturing unit Board’s Enterprise Korwa in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, which might manufacture the rifles because the precept JV affiliate, is an important beneficiary as its amount of enterprise is able to lengthen manifold with a company order of at least 750,000 rifles.

The Navy’s Prolonged Look for an Assault Rifle

Ever as a result of the 5.56x45mm INSAS was inducted in 1994, the Navy has been dissatisfied with this rifle designed by the Defence Evaluation and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by the OFB. The rifle’s limitations relating to lethality and reliability, along with weight and lack of built-in sighting system, led the Navy to seek for an alternate though various enhancements had been revamped time. In November 2009, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the perfect selection making physique of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), gave in-principle approval for procurement of 1,87,825 assault rifles (along with 16,zero56 for the Navy) beneath the ‘Buy and Make’ class with a provision of license manufacturing by the OFB. Put up the DAC approval, the Navy issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) in November 2011 for the procurement of a twin calibre (capable of firing every 5.56x45mm and 7.62x39mm ammunition) assault rifle. The RFP did not, however, fructify as no vendor would possibly meet the stringent technical specs – known as the Regular Employees Qualitative Requirement (GSQRs) in procurement parlance. Consequently, the RFP was retracted in June 2015.

Following the retraction of the RFP, the Navy along with the OFB, DRDO and Directorate Regular Top quality Assurance (DGQA) tried to develop a model new 5.56x45mm assault rifle. Although the model new rifle, named INSAS 1C and produced by the Rifle Manufacturing unit Ishapore (RFI), would possibly meet the required technical and operational parameters along with reliability check out with firing of 2400 rounds, it did not progress extra. In August 2016, the Navy modified the specification of the calibre to 7.62x51mm based mostly totally on its revised operational philosophy that gave prominence to ‘Shoot to Kill’ over ‘incapacitation’, which was an important design consideration behind the INSAS 1C enchancment. With the revised operational philosophy in place, the Defence Minister, in a gathering held in September 2016, directed the OFB to develop a 7.62x51mm assault rifle beneath the steering of the Enterprise Monitoring Workforce (PMT) organize beneath the chairmanship of Director Regular Infantry (DG-INF) with members drawn from the DRDO and DGQA. The first prototypes, produced by the RFI, had been ready by May 2017. Nevertheless the preliminary trials had been apparently lower than the Navy’s expectations.

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With the PMT-led enchancment of a rifle not satisfying the navy, and with the latter in urgent need of a recent long-range rifle for frontline troops deployed on the borders, the DAC on January 16, 2018 decided to amass 72,400 rifles along with 93,895 carbines on a fast monitor basis. The following month, on February 13, 2018, the DAC gave one different approval for 740,000 assault rifles for the three Corporations beneath the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ procurement class, with the provision that every the OFB and the personal sector would licence-manufacture a portion each. The tender for the procurement of 72,400 rifles has fructified, with the American Company, Sig Sauer, signing the contract valued at nearly Rs 700 crore with the MoD in February 2019.

The procurement of bulk rifles took a model new and decisive flip when India and Russia reached an settlement to rearrange the Kalashnikov manufacturing centre in India all through President Vladimir Putin’s go to in October 2018. An Inter-Governmental Settlement (IGA) rapidly adopted on February 18, 2019 to rearrange a 3 means partnership to offer at least 750,000 7.62×39 mm AK-203 rifles in India. As per the IGA, the JV, which was registered on February 25, 2019, can have a 50.5 per cent equity stake by the OFB and the stableness by the Russian companions. The equity building emulates that of 1 different India-Russia JV, BrahMos Aerospace, and is designed to allow the company to operate as a private agency comparatively than as a public sector enterprise.

India’s different of AK-203 was influenced by the rifle’s fashionable design and effectivity. It was chosen over totally different AK assortment of rifles – AK-103, AK-103 (Modernised) and AK-15 – which had been all evaluated by a workforce of Navy officers who, along with OFB officers, visited the Kalashnikov manufacturing centre in Russia in early December 2018. The Navy found that the AK-203 has increased accuracy, additional picatinny rails (required for mounting quite a few types of day/night sights and grenade launcher on the rifle), decreased flash and recoil, increased ergonomics and better ease of operation in battle. The AK-203 was developed in 2016 and supplied to the Russian armed forces in 2018. India could be the primary nation to which Russia could possibly be transferring the design/manufacturing of this rifle. The signing of the IGA and the formation of the JV have lastly delivered to an end a decade-long saga involving an arduous course of for inducting a recent rifle for the Indian armed forces.

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Improve to Make in India

Whereas the Navy will lastly get its long-waited weapon, the AK-203 may also be a sexy proposition for the Make in India initiative, and for the OFB notably. The goal of higher indigenisation, as enshrined inside the Make in India programme, is able to be achieved within the midst of manufacturing the rifle in India. As per the IGA, the indigenous content material materials (IC) is to be progressively elevated in each part of producing. All rifles to be produced previous the first 120,000 can have 100 per cent indigenous content material materials (see Desk 1). Further significantly, 100 per cent indigenisation is to be achieved in 32 months from the contract date, and all the long run technological upgrades to the rifles, as and when required, will possible be carried out by the JV in India. The OFB, which goes by way of rising rivals from the personal sector, could not have requested for additional because it’s assured of virtually Rs 5,000 crores of order by the manufacturing of the AK-203. Moreover, supplied that the JV is a major involving an ordnance manufacturing unit, it could actually open up alternate options for the OFB to find totally different worldwide partnerships to stay ahead of its opponents.

Desk 1. Deliberate Indigenisation of AK-203



No of Rifles

Indigenisation Diploma (%)














Steadiness No.


The important thing beneficiary of the AK-203 deal is clearly the Ordnance Manufacturing unit Korwa which was organize in 2007 with a sanctioned funding of Rs 408 crore to manufacture Shut Quarter Battle (CQB) Carbine beneath Change of Know-how (ToT). Earlier, because of the non-fructification of ToT attributable to various causes, the manufacturing unit, which has over 200 workers on its payroll, has been working successfully beneath functionality, with output restricted to the manufacture of low-value Bore Movement Weapons for the Ministry of Dwelling Affair and State Police Forces, and quite a few components and components for sister factories (see Desk 2). With a voluminous order of Rs 5000 crore and an annual centered manufacturing of 75,000 rifles, the company could have the power to completely utilise its accessible manufacturing functionality for a minimum of a decade. With its amount of enterprise set to increase by nearly 30 situations on a median inside the subsequent 10 years, it might successfully search an enlargement of its present functionality. The order might also allow the manufacturing unit to play the operate of an anchor investor for making a neighborhood supply-chain for components and components, which might create employment alternate options and improve monetary improvement in and spherical Korwa. Further significantly, with an order to manufacture primarily the hottest rifle on the earth, the manufacturing unit stands an outstanding likelihood of turning into the centre for small arms manufacturing inside the nation other than breaking into the worthwhile export market.

Desk 2. Value of Manufacturing of Ordnance Manufacturing unit Korwa








Rs in Crore







India’s current and future security environment necessitate the continued deployment of security forces, notably the Navy, in a extraordinarily lethal environment involving every typical and sub-conventional warfare. With the AK-203, the Navy’s prolonged search for a recent assault rifle to deal with quite a few challenges has lastly come to a worthwhile end. The rifle’s confirmed lethality, accuracy, reliability, and superior choices would give every soldier in possession of the weapon the required confidence and morale to sort out a big spectrum of challenges efficiently and effectivity. The reality that the rifle could possibly be produced in India with 100 per cent indigenous content material materials in decrease than three years makes it a win-win deal for the Navy and the Make in India initiative, with Ordnance Manufacturing unit Korwa rising as the most important winner.
Views expressed are of the authors and do not primarily replicate the views of the IDSA or of the Authorities of India.

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