Indo-Russian JV to manufacture Kalashnikov rifles is likely to begin production in India in 2019, Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Alexander Fomin said, after the Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission meeting on military technical cooperation on Thursday.
The Indian defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu co-chaired the meeting. "We considered in detail steps to launch the production of Kalashnikov submachine guns in India in 2019," TASS quoted Fomin as saying.
"Close attention was focused on the quality of post-sale servicing. An agreement was signed on the establishment of a Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission on military and military technical cooperation to complete the restructuring of the intergovernmental commission to make it possible to establish closer cooperation in the defense sphere," he added.
According to earlier reports, the IGA will have a plan for both joint production and joint development (modernization) of AK-103 rifles. Within the joint development, India will obtain all the intellectual property rights for jointly designed and developed product.
The AK103 is the third generation of the Kalashnikov assault rifles, an upgrade of the popular AK47 and AKM rifles of Russian origin.
The joint venture proposal is slated to be in response to an Indian MoD Request for Information (RFI) for procurement of 650 000 assault rifles of 7.62x39 mm caliber under ‘Make in India’ program. The IGA, if concluded, could lead to negotiations and the selection of an Indian partner for manufacturing the rifles in India. The Russian share in the JV as per the provisions of the Indian law is going to be 49.5% with the Indian public or private company’s share being the majority 50.5% of the registered capital.”
Once established, the JV could also explore modernization of the Indian security establishment’s existing stock of 5.56mm caliber rifles to 7.62mm caliber. The JV will also have to explore export opportunities to third countries.
The Indian MoD is looking for two types of rifles; the first, a highly accurate rifle with a high rate of fire meant for front-line forces and the second, a lighter assault rifle meant for infantry troops. The AK-103 could fit the fill for the second type of requirement.
Recent reports say that the Indian MoD is looking for a replacement for its locally-made INSAS rifles made by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). It is probable that the OFB could be selected as a partner in the AK-103 program given its already established manufacturing infrastructure for the INSAS assault rifles.