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Zarvan

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Prime Minister Modi launches Kalashnikov rifles manufacturing facility in Amethi, underneath a giant image of a 5.56 chambered AK200 series rifle which appears to have been flipped as the ejection port is on the wrong side (PTI)

We have been closely following India’s tentative steps towards modernisation of her Army’s small arms and the replacement of the INSAS rifle. It seemed that with the selection of Kalashnikov Concern’s AK-203 that India had selected a rifle suited to its soldier’s needs but recent reports suggest that the progress toward beginning production of the new rifles may have stalled.



India’s Economic Times recently reported that the factory established to produced the new Indian AK-203’s won’t begin work before the end of 2020. The delay has been attributed not only to delays related to the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic but also “over differences in pricing”. The price for the establishing of the factory, tooling up and production of at least 670,000 rifles was forecast to be agreed at the end of May.

Back in February, we took a look at the differences between the Russian AK-203 and the planned Indian AK-203. We noted that the Indian configuration retains the AK-203’s railed top cover, contoured ergonomic pistol grip and its muzzle device. However, the Indian Army has not opted for the Russian 203’s adjustable buttstock, instead opting for the simpler AK-103 folding stock and a handguard with no top rail. The Indian configuration, as it stands, also lacks the Russian 203’s finger tab for easier manipulation without moving the right hand too far off the pistol grip.


Indian AK-203 (left side)

With a potential order for 750,000 rifles, the scope of the contract is huge with a potential cost reported in 2018 of $2.5 billion. While the Indian government appeared to announce the agreement over 12 months ago, we have been waiting for further news on the signing of a contract for the production of the new rifles. It has been suggested that the order is now estimated to be worth just under $2 billion – this yet to be officially confirmed as negotiations continue.

A joint venture company, Indo Rifles, has been formed with 50-50 ownership split between India’s state Ordnance Factory Board and Russia’s Kalashnikov Concern/Rosoboronexport. Production is planned at a plant in Amethi. The Amethi factory is projected to create at least 200 new jobs and produce over 70,000 rifles a year.


Indian AK-203 (right side)

Also worth noting are the Indian government’s plans to reform India’s state-operated Ordnance Factory Board. With plans to corporatise the OFB announced at the beginning of May by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman more than 40 of India’s ordnance factories are now on the verge of strike action. The OFB is certainly in need of reform, whether corporatisation is the right method to achieve this is unclear.

The Indian government’s planned corporatisation of the OFB would, in theory, improve accountability, efficiency and autonomy while also allowing increased foreign investment. Unions and workers, however, are concerned that the move would inevitably see factory closures and job losses as the private sector struggles to make India’s massive defense industry profitable – while also maintaining capacity in the event of a war. The OFB factories employ over 80,000 workers and the three main unions have agreed to on strike action in July, although it has been confirmed that any strikes will be deferred if tensions between China and India continue to rise.


Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs www.historicalfirearms.info, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of www.armourersbench.com, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

Reach Matt at: matt@thefirearmblog.com

https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2020/06/23/indias-ak-203-program-delayed/
 

Zapper

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Why you want that too happen ???
These 203's are costing us around $1000 per rifle for which we could get better AR's from the west. I don't trust the workmanship of these DPSU's who're extremely shoddy and delayed deliveries. No wonder their protesting against privatization since they know they'd have to be productive and can't continue their chai-biscuit culture anymore.

The Sig-716 which IA procured around 70k of em recently also costed us the same. Also, it's unclear of the exact version of 203 we're getting since the one displayed in DefExpo 2020 looked more like a hybrid of 103 and 203

I'd prefer to go for Bangalore based SSS Defence's P72 series of assault rifles and carbines. Their snipers are currently in testing with NSG & Para SF

P-72 AR & Carbine




Saber & Viper sniper rifles


Their snipers under testing
 
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Lord Of Gondor

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Why you want that too happen ???
Because it makes even less sense than it did a year ago as we see that this is a "built to cost" version of the 203?
Because like almost all things here, politics had a say in this?
[Politics in this is the fact the current NDA GoI wants the Amethi Ordinance Factory to be up and running at full steam giving hundreds of jobs as Amethi is Congress/UPA stronghold and they built the factory. But thanks to Indian procurement red tape, they were unable to get the factory any meaningful orders.]
Because India has built tens of thousands of East German MPi KMS 72, and this would be a very minor upgrade?
And as the above post mentions, options now are available that will surely give the AK a fight in a normal "Multi Vendor Tender".
 

Zapper

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Because India has built tens of thousands of East German MPi KMS 72, and this would be a very minor upgrade?
And as the above post mentions, options now are available that will surely give the AK a fight in a normal "Multi Vendor Tender".
We don't really have a ton of options since most private Indian firms teamed up with foreign players to license produce these weapons which isn't required for small arms since the IP won't be Indian in the end

SSS Defence initially wanted to form a JV with US's LMT but decided otherwise since they wanted the IP to be Indian. Other private Indian firms should follow what UAE's Caracal did...hire western consultants to design world class weapons and build up on em rather than license production which is nothing but a nut & bolt job
 

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