The Indian Army is to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)in a month for the procurement of over 7.5 lakh AK-203 assault rifles. These rifles will be manufactured locally by an India-Russia joint venture (JV) with 1 lakh rifles to come directly from Russia, remaining 6.5 lakh rifles will be manufactured by the JV.Rifle manufacturing through JV:
i.The Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) at Amethi district’s Korwa town in Uttar Pradesh will manufacture the rifles. The factory is a joint-venture of the Ordnance Factory Board(OFB) of India and Rosoboron Exports and Kalashnikov of Russia.
ii.Stake holdings: OFB holds 50.5% equity and Russia holds the remaining 49.5% stake. The JV was formed by an intergovernmental agreement between India and Russia in February 2019.
iii.CEO of IRRPL: To regulate the timely delivery of rifles, the Army has appointed Major General Sanjeev Senger as the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of IRRPL.
iv.The Ministry of Defence(MoD) has already floated a request for proposal (RFP) to JV for the supply of 6.71 lakh rifles.
v.Recent SIG-716 Rifle Procurement: The Indian Army (IA) has recently begun inducting 1st batch of 10,000 SIG-716 assault rifles out of the 72,400 assault rifles in addition to AK-203. These SIG-716 rifles were procured under contract worth over Rs 700 crore signed in February 2019 with Sig Sauer company of the U.S. (United States).
vi.Rifle to armed forces: Of the 72,400 rifles, 66,400 will be given to the Army, 2,000 to the Navy and 4,000 to the Air Force. The entire quantity is expected to be delivered within 12 months from the date of signing the contract.
vii.INSAS replacement: The Army looks to replace indigenous INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) rifles in use with a modern rifle.
About Indian Army(IA):
Founded- 1 April 1895
Headquarters- New Delhi.
Motto- “Service Before Self”
Commander-in-Chief- President Ram Nath Kovind.