India Buy 70,000 Off-The-Shelf AKs

    India Buy 70,000 Off-The-Shelf AKs

    Soldiers of the Rashtriya Rifles, a counter-insurgency force, armed with Romanian PM MD.90 AKs (Indian Army)

    Last week Indian media outlets began reporting that an order for as many as 70,000 AK-pattern rifles had been made from Russia’s Kalashnikov Concern. Speculation surrounded the news and many wondered how the order would fit into the larger deal being negotiated between India and Russia for a production license to manufacture an AK-203 variant in India.

    Indian Weapons Procurement @ TFB:

    It appears, however, that the reported Indian rifle order may be for the more basic AK-103. Director General of Rosoboronexport, Kalashnikov’s parent company, Alexander Mikheev told Russian news service Interfax that a contract had been signed with India for the supply of 70,000 AK-103 assault rifles. Interfax also reported that a batch of AK-15s was shipped to India, which “will be used by special units of a number of Indian states.”

    Indian AK-203 (right side)

    The order appears to be to fulfil an urgent operational requirement, which has necessitated an immediate off-the-shelf procurement rather than a run of the planned Indian variant of the AK-203, which we have a detailed article on here. The planned Indian service rifle, to be manufactured by Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd., is an amalgamation of features from the AK-103 and AK-203. The Indian rifle plans to retain the 203’s railed top cover, contoured ergonomic pistol grip and its muzzle device. However, India has not opted for the Russian 203’s adjustable buttstock, instead opting for the simpler AK-103 folding stock and handguard (with no top rail).

    Russia’s largest military exposition, Army 2021, typically sees major announcements made by numerous state-owned Russian defense companies. Rosoboronexport JSC (part of the Rostec State Corporation) which owns Kalashnikov said in a press release that they would “hold dozens of negotiations and conclude contracts with foreign customers at Army 2021.” Mikheev went on to say “we will showcase equipment and weapons for the land forces, aircraft, advanced precision guided weapons for them, air defense and electronic warfare assets. There are a lot of applications for the demonstration of naval equipment, to which a separate cluster is dedicated at Army this year.” It remains to be seen if the deal for 70,000 rifles will be announced alongside the finalisation of the larger Indo-Russian Rifles Ltd. deal.
    AK203 announcement

    Prime Minister Modi launches Kalashnikov rifles manufacturing facility in Amethi, underneath a giant image of a 5.56 chambered AK200 series rifle which appears to have been flipped as the ejection port is on the wrong side (PTI)

    The off-the-shelf order is contrary to India’s Atmanirbhar (made in India) initiative but is in-line with other Indian urgent procurements such as the high profile purchases of SIG Sauer 716i rifles and Negev Light Machine Guns. The Indian Army requires a total of around 700,000 rifles to replace the current INSAS rifle in front line units. For more context last year we attempted to make sense of India’s small arms procurement efforts.
    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]