Making of AK-203 rifle in Amethi may bring in votes and jobs, but most importantly will replace obsolete INSAS

Since coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed his first rally in Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency Amethi and inaugurated a manufacturing unit for AK-203 rifles, an India-Russia joint venture. The political rally on Sunday prompted Congress chief Rahul Gandhi accusing Modi of lying regarding the ordnance factory. Rahul tweeted:

The AK-203/103 rifle, which will soon be manufactured in Korwa area of Amethi after Modi laid the foundation stone of its manufacturing unit, is the latest derivative of the legendary AK-47 rifle. Reports have said that the project, in collaboration with the Russians, will be undertaken at the Korwa ordnance factory, which was established in 2010. Around 7.5 lakh units of the latest version of AK-47 will be manufactured in the new unit.

After the rifles are supplied to the defence forces, the government, in the next phase, will provide them to paramilitary and the state police forces. There is a possibility that 15 to 20 years down the line, all the forces would be using this assault rifle as their standard weapon, ANI reported. Apart from this, the defence ministry has already signed a contract with American Sig Sauer for the supply of 7.69mm 59 calibre advanced assault rifles. These would be given to soldiers directly engaged in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.

The rifles will progressively replace the Indian Army’s in-service INSAS (India Small Arms System) and AK-47 rifles. The 200-series of AK rifles represents the next generation and evolution of the 100-series of AKs.

How does INSAS rifle compare with AK-203

The Indian Army has been looking for an all-weather durable assault rifle for a while as its mainstay weapon INSAS has been reportedly riddled with problems. Issues including, gun-jamming, rifle going to automatic mode when it was set for three-round bursts and oil falling on user’s eyes during combat, have been reasons behind the system being prone to serious accidents.

An AK-203 rifle. News18 India

An AK-203 rifle. News18 India

According to a report in The Times of India, during the 1999 Kargil war, soldiers had complained of INSAS guns jamming or magazine cracking in freezing temperatures during combat.

The 200-series Kalashnikov rifles have same basic design, layout and major features (including famous reliability and durability), but feature improved ergonomics and modern accessory interfaces.

The AK103 has plastic folding buttstock that ensures convenience on the march, during transportation and landing operations. The weapon can fire with buttstock folded. According to the Kalashnikov website, the AK103 can carry a 40-mm under-barrel grenade launcher or a knife-bayonet.

The AK103 can carry a 40-mm under-barrel grenade launcher or a knife-bayonet. There is a side dove-tail mounting rail for optical, collimator or night sights. New muzzle brake provides for cyclic fire accuracy and further reduces muzzle climb and burst recoil.

Manufactured in the Thiruchirappalli ordnance factory, Kanpur small arms factory and rifle factory Ichhapur in West Bengal, INSAS was predominantly not meant to kill, but only incapacitate. Bullets fired from INSAS have an effective range of 400 metre and the gun magazine can hold 20 rounds. Though its magazine is translucent, it sometimes breaks when it hits the ground.

AK 200 series is 100 percent accurate and will be lighter and shorter than an INSAS. It can host an under barrel grenade launcher and all versions can be equipped with quick-detachable tactical sound suppressors. The rifle, which can fire 10 bullets in a second (means 600 bullets in a minute) is a NATO-grade ammunition. Kalashnikovs can work under extreme climatic conditions and are effective in sand, soil and water and they never get jammed.

Hunt for reliable rifle for forces ends?

“The Indian defence-industrial sector will have the opportunity to fulfil the needs of national security agencies in this category of small arms, resting upon advanced Russian technologies.” Russian president Vladimir Putin said in a message which was read out by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

He said military and technical cooperation has traditionally been one of the key areas of the special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India. “For more than seven decades, we have been supplying reliable and high-quality armaments and equipment to Indian friends. Around 170 military and industrial facilities have been set up in India with assistance from our country,” Putin said.

Favoured by the military around the world and operational in all conditions, the AK-47 rifles is much in demand because of their reliability and operational ease — militaries of 50 couyntries use AK-47 and over 30 countries have the licence to manufacture the Russian assault rifle.

Reports in 2018 stated that soldiers were trying innovative ways to modify their INSAS rifles to reduce overall length and weight of the existing weapons so as to lessen fatigue and enhance accuracy. “The modification of INSAS/AK-47 weapon has been done to include corner shot capability. The modified weapon is more stable while firing, compact, easy to carry and has better accuracy,” sources in defence were quoted as saying.

Modi’s Sunday announcement of opening a manufacturing unit in Amethi will likely translate into a few votes and jobs in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the statement will definitely bolster the Indian security forces who have been struggling with an obsolete INSAS.

Soldiers deployed in counter-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir and North East have started using either the AK-47 or imported guns. The Times of India reported that even the CRPF had switched over to AK-47 in militancy-infested areas.

Special forces like Para commandos, Marine Commandos (popularly known as Marcos), Garuda Commando Force (IAF special force) and National Security Guard (anti-terror force) also rely on German or Israel automatic rifles like Heckler and Koch MP5 sub-machine guns and Tavor rifles.

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Updated Date: Mar 04, 2019 18:17:44 IST

Updated: March 4, 2019 — 8:12 pm