On March 3, PM Modi launched the Kalashnikov rifles manufacturing factory in Amethi. During his visit, he also unveiled other development projects for the constituency. In his speech at the launch of Indo-Russian Rifles Pvt Ltd in Kauhar, Amethi, a joint venture between world-renowned arms manufacturer Kalashnikov and Ordnance Factory Korwa, PM said, “One of the most advanced rifles in world AK-203 will be made in Amethi.”
Recently, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wrote a blog on how the present dispensation under Prime Minister Modi is putting serious efforts for the modernisation of Indian Security Forces. She also has underlined in her post how the Congress ignored the modernisation bid and left forces with scarcity of budgetary allocations.
The factory will produce around 7.5 lakh of the most advanced rifles, the AK 203. This is a successor of the historic AK 47 which continues to be service in many militaries across the world. The rifle will be manufactured employing improved metallurgy thereby achieving lighter weight (3.85 kgs), shorter length (932 mm) and modern ergonomics. The rifle also possesses remarkably improved performance parameters as compared to the INSAS rifle. Using INSAS rifle for the longest time, our soldiers have had to face several issues such as gun jamming, oil drips during combat, and frequent breakages in its magazines. Taking cognizance of this issue, the NDA government made it a priority to upgrade and gradually replace the handheld firearms. With an effective range of 300m, increased lethality and higher accuracy, the AK 203 rifle will add substantial firepower to our armed forces and bolster the combat capabilities of our soldiers in different scenarios, whether in counter-terrorists or conventional operations. The acquisition of these rifles by the armed forces would be in consonance with the government’s aim to enhance defence preparedness.
The manufacturing of AK-203 in Amethi is a glowing example of India’s robust foreign relations and political determination to provide our forces with world-class equipment under the Modi government. India will also be the first nation, outside Russia, to be equipped with the advanced AK-203 rifles. Prime Minister Modi and President Putin guided their respective teams to work together to launch the joint-venture, adhering to strict timelines without compromising on due diligence.
In a major push towards indigenisation, the rifles produced at the plant will be 100% ‘Made in India’ within the next three years. The ‘transfer of technology’ worked out in the deal with Russia emphasises on capacity and capability building within India to ensure that all parts of the AK-203 are produced locally. This would provide a fillip to the Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor Project and Ordnance Factory Korwa shall become a crucial anchor in the supply chain. As different aspects of the production processes of AK-203 are localised, Indo-Russian Rifles will continue to expand and build a vendor base in the region. This will benefit the MSMEs of the region that are engaged in defence and allied industries, as all components of the rifle can be produced within the UP Defence Corridor. The expansion of production will lead to the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs and give a push to the general economy of Amethi. The government’s determination to make India a major defence exporter also played a part in the launch of this joint venture. As we will be producing one of the most advanced small arms available in the world market, the export potential of Indo Russian Rifles is immense.
The foundation stone of Ordnance Factory Korwa was laid by Rahul Gandhi in 2007. The performance of OF Korwa from 2007 to 2014, however, has been lacklustre. OF Korwa was sanctioned in 2007 with a budget of Rs 408.11 Crore. However, due to administrative issues under the UPA government, only Rs 318.36 Crore has been invested in the establishment. The AK-203 manufacturing plant will use together with the new plants and machinery all the existing facilities of OF Korwa which have remained under-utilised.
This joint-venture in Amethi, established with the aim to achieve complete localisation, showcases the success of the Make in India programme and strength of long-standing Indo-Russian strategic ties. The production of advanced world-class rifles in India truly signals the nation’s coming of age as a defence production powerhouse.