India’s PM Narendra Modi has inaugurated a Kalashnikov plant which is set to produce hundreds of thousands of AK-203s for the army locally, as the Indian forces are steadily phasing out their aging assault rifles.
Located in the northeastern state of Uttar Pradesh, the plant was on Sunday launched by Prime Minister Modi and top military brass in the town of Amethi. The newest Kalashnikov firearm will help Indian forces fight terrorist and separatist groups, the Indian premier said.
Modi also extended his praise “to my friend President Vladimir Putin,” adding, “this venture was made possible in such a short time by his support.” The Russian leader, in turn, said in a statement that producing the rifles on Indian soil will give a boost to the local defense industry, develop know-how and create new jobs.
The compound, jointly run by India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OAB) and Russia’s Kalashnikov Concern, is licensed to produce a whopping 750,000 of AK-203s – the latest upgrade of the time-proven 7.62mm assault rifle.
Russian defense industry officials say the ambitious project aims high and plans to make even more AKs, including their future derivatives.
The 203 model is based upon AK-100 series assault rifles which, in turn, inherited many properties of the older AK-74 version. While muzzle velocity and reliability largely remained the same, its accuracy and ergonomics improved dramatically.
The 203 features a folding adjustable buttstock, ergonomic pistol grip, and Picatinny rails allowing for mounting an optical scope, a tactical flashlight or laser sight. The rifle is currently in use with Russian Special Forces.
The Indian military has long sought to replace its standard-issue firearm, the 5.56mm INSAS rifle. The weapon was indigenously developed back in the late-1980s. It is primarily based on the AKM but lacks its legendary reliability, firepower, and simplicity.
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