- India is all set to replace the assault rifles weaponry for its infantry troops.
- India and Russia in a Joint Venture will license-produce 7,50,000 AK-203 assault rifles in Korwa Ordnance Factory in Amethi, UP.
In-Brief: Infantry weapon system of India
- The infantry weapon system basically constitutes:
- Assault rifles
- Light Machine Guns
- India is trying to replace the obsolete INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) since 2008. INSAS is a grpup of infantry arms which consist of an assault rifle and a light machine gun, manufactured by the Ordnance Factories Board
- Infantry modernisation includes acquisition of 7 lakh assault rifles, light machine guns and carbines.
- The process is fast-tracked now from 2018 given the emerging threats in the border areas, terrorism, insurgency etc.
- Besides the weapon system of the paramilitary forces, police forces are also obsolete.
- As a result the Defence Acquisition Council has cleared various projects to upgrade the infantry weapon system:
- SigSauer Assault Rifles: Recently India signed a deal with signed a deal with USA to acquire 72,400 modern assault rifles under the fast-track procurement (FTP) route. SigSauer Assault Rifles are more advanced with greater fire-power will equip the frontline infantry troops for counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations only at LOC.
- Carbines: India is also in the final phase of the deal with UAE for acquiring 93,895 Close Quarter Battle (CQB) carbines.
- AK-203: AK-203 with comparatively lesser fire power, low weight category will equip the other infantry groups. In about 15-20 years AK-203 will also equip paramilitary forces and police forces within the country.
In Focus: AK-203 Assault Rifles
Background: AK-103 evolved into AK-203
- AK-203 is a 3-generation upgraded modern variant of the iconic AK-47 assault rifle.
- India and Russia were actually in talks to manufacture AK-103 till recently.
- AK-203 is similar to AK-103 in its features including reliability and durability. However AK-203 upgraded with better ergonomics and modern accessory interface.
- Thus AK-203 was the natural choice as a new generation assault rifle.
Key Features of AK-203
- AK-203 assault rifles are advanced infantry battle weapons with following important features:
- Light weight about 5 kg (as against 4.15 kg of INSAS) and thus easy to maintain.
- It has a 62x39mm NATO grade ammunition (INSAS-5.56 mm)
- It features a 30-round magazine
- It can fire at a rate of 600 bullets per minute
- It has a range of 500m on iron sight and 800m on 4X zoom.
- It has a high strength plastic body rendering it greater durability and better ergonomics than wooden bodies.
- AK-203 has a high grade poly hand grip and pistol grip. (AK-47 and INSAS has wooden grip)
- It has adjustable foldable buttstock made of plastic and thus are easy to carry and transport.(buttstock is back of the rifle)
- It is equipped with picatiny rails on dust cover which gives the option of mounting different equipments like optical scopes, night vision scopes with thermal infrared scopes, flash light, red dot laser etc.
- It can also be equipped with an underbarrel grenade launcher and tactical sound suppressors.