India might soon begin manufacturing AK-103 rifles under license from Kalashnikov.
India MoD Visit
A Kalashnikov Concern press release reveals that a delegation from India’s Ministry of Defence recently visited the company’s Izhevsk factory. The delegation was headed by Apurva Chandra, the MoD’s Director General of Acquisition. While there, Chandra and his associates were treated to a demonstration of the production of AK rifles. They also sent rounds through the rifles at the Concern’s shooting range.
“India’s military, like the rest of the world, knows Kalashnikov’s legendary designs perfectly well,” Chandra said. “Today gave us the opportunity to see the entire production cycle and test assault rifles ourselves. What we have witnessed proves the plant’s capacity to provide uninterrupted production of hi-tech equipment in quantity. While assembly of the latest AKs has already gone in full swing, we saw good potential for future growth and transition to production of state-of-the-art designs in the future.”
The two countries have evidently been looking to make a deal for some time. According to India Today, Kalashnikov Concern proposed production of the AK-103 under license in 2014. The offer was shot down by MoD on “procedural” grounds. The Economic Times reports that things changed when the Indian Army issued a requirement for a small batch of 7.62x39mm rifles to be imported, with the rest being manufactured in-house. Kalashnikov came knocking again. This time, it looks like the offer was accepted.
The timing couldn’t have been better; India Today also reported that this was the first year that India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board didn’t get an order from the Army, police or paramilitary for the INSAS rifle. The Indian Army is reportedly phasing out that rifle and replacing it with a new system.
Economic Times reports that the AK-103, when made in India, will find immediate use in counterinsurgency operations. It might also be used by some paramilitary forces in the long term.
Full Steam Ahead
In the meantime, Alexander A. Mikheev, the Director General of Russian state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, said his organization can assist India in building a facility to make AK rifles.
“We are ready to help India construct a facility similar to what the Mr. Apurva Chandra-led delegation saw today to produce modern weapons and future Kalashnikov’s designs,” Mikheev stated. “Rosoboronexport has substantial expertise to accommodate needs of our partner. Russia’s special arms exporter can cooperate with any state or private facility in India subject to the country’s Ministry of Defense choice.”
Arkady Privalov, the Deputy Director General of Kalashnikov, echoed those sentiments, while also touting the Concern’s production prowess.
“The Kalashnikov Group demonstrated to our Indian partners capabilities of our revamped operation, its effectiveness, flexibility, and capacity to take up production of cutting-edge equipment in almost no time, as well as boost the production rate, provided more orders come into our hands,” Privalov said. “We have made emphasis on providing at a moment’s notice transfer of technologies essential for production of our weapons to any defense facility in India. We hope that the issue of setting up production of Kalashnikov assault rifles gives way to specific solutions in the near future for us to take up implementing our mutually beneficial intentions.”