Why in News:
- The Indo-Russian joint venture at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh will start manufacturing AK-203 assault rifles by 2022 end
- Over 6.1 lakh AK-203 assault rifles will be manufactured in India with technology transfer from Russia
- The AK-203 is the most recent and sophisticated variant of the AK-47 rifle, which is widely regarded as the most reliable weapon in its class.
- The AK series of rifles (also known as ‘Avtomat Kalashnikova’ in Russia) is a line of Russian automatic rifles based on Mikhail Kalashnikov’s design.
- AK-203 rifles would eventually replace the INSAS rifles used by the Army and paramilitary forces.
The need for Ak-203
- INSAS (INdian Small Arms System)- made by the erstwhile OFB, is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle and a light machine gun. The INSAS was first used in battle during the Kargil War in 1999.
- INSAS experienced numerous challenges during the Kargil War. Jamming, magazine cracking owing to cold, oil spray, injuries during fire practise, switching into automatic mode by itself, and other issues have been reported at high altitudes in the Himalayas.
- A weapon used must be reliable and capable of operating in a wide range of climatic and terrain conditions, from extreme cold (as in the Siachen glaciers) to high heat (like in the Thar deserts). In a combat situation, it must be able to fire instantly when needed, with no difficulties like jamming. Hence, Ak-203 rifles make a better choice for the Indian security forces.
- Under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, AK-203 rifles will be manufactured in India. This might make the production of these weapons economical in the future, and India may be able to export them to other countries.