NEW DELHI: Indian government has signed a deal with a Russian firm to manufacture AK–203, which is the latest derivative of the legendary AK-47 assault rifle.
As per the deal, the Russian firm will manufacture 750,000 AK-203, which would be given to the infantry troops of the Indian Army. Talking to ANI, senior government officials said that the AK-203 would replace the existing India-made INSAS assault rifles in the Army, Air Force and Navy.
After the Russian firm would supply the rifles to the defence forces, the government would provide these state-of-the-art assault rifles to paramilitary and the state police forces. It is likely that all security forces in the country would be using AK-203 as their standard weapon in the next 10-15 years.
It may be recalled that the Defence Ministry has already signed a contract with American Sig Sauer for the supply of 7.69mm 59 calibre advanced assault rifles. The government has decided to give these assault rifles to soldiers directly engaged in counter-insurgency and other operations.
Experts maintain that the government's decision to have two different assault rifles for the forces sends a message that New Delhi wants the soldiers who are engaged regularly in combat with terrorist or Pakistan Army on the Line of Control, should remain emboldened with very advanced weapons in their possession while the others who are taking care of security elsewhere in the country can also use advanced rifle as and when required.
Around 10 years ago, the government had started looking for a better replacement for INSAS rifles after receiving complaints about the rifles from ground troops deployed across the country.
(with ANI inputs)