The Indian government inaugurated a manufacturing facility in the country's northern state of Uttar Pradesh on 3 March to licence build 750,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles for its military under a joint venture (JV) with Russian companies.
Under the name Indo-Russian Private Limited (IRPL), the JV will manufacture AK-203 7.62 mm rifles at the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) facility in Korwa, which is located about 680 km southeast of New Delhi, officials said.
The JV follows an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) signed between New Delhi and Moscow in late February, in which it was determined that the OFB would own a majority stake of 50.5 % in IRPL. The Kalashnikov Group would have a 42 % share while Russia's state-owned export agency, Rosoboronexport, would own the remaining 7.5%, according to the IGA.
However, the price of each rifle, which will also include the cost of technology transfer and of setting up the manufacturing unit, has not yet been finalised, official sources told Jane's on 4 March.
The officials pointed out that about 40,000 AK-203 rifles will be directly imported for the Indian Army (IA) over the next few months to meet urgent operational requirements, following which the JV is expected to manufacture 70,000 units per year until the entire contract is completed under New Delhi's 'Make in India' initiative.
Initially the JV will assemble each rifle from knocked-down kits and then localise components and sub-assembles to further indigenise production.
Laying the foundation stone of the OFB facility Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the AK-203 rifles will help the country's security forces fight militants in counter-insurgency (COIN) operations.
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