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An India-Russia joint venture that was set up to produce the AK-203 assault rifles has completed its first phase with the delivery of 35,000 sets to the Indian Army and the facility at Amethi is now fully equipped to produce the rifles in large numbers.

The Amethi factory, which produced its first set of 5,000 rifles in January last year, is geared to meet the requirements of Indian armed forces that are in excess of 600,000 rifles and will also cater to exports in the future.

“The Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited joint venture has completed the first phase of the project to produce AK-203 Kalashnikov assault rifles in India. To increase the degree of localisation, all necessary equipment has been shipped to the Korwa Ordnance Factory in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh state, and production facilities are now fully equipped,” Alexander Mikheev, director general of Russia’s Rosoboronexport, announced on Friday.

He added that the batch of 35,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles has been delivered to the Indian Army “within the time frame agreed with the ministry of defence”.

“Production is in full compliance with the Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan. The project includes technology transfer and 100% localisation of AK-203 production,” he said.

The AK-203 assault rifle is a version of the AK-200 rifle chambered for the 7.62x39mm cartridge used in the Indian Army. The rifle had been extensively tested by the army before it was selected for the requirement. The army has already received 70,000 of the rifles that were needed on an urgent basis directly from Russia.

The rifles are being produced in a factory in Amethi that was inaugurated in 2019. The rifles are being delivered as part of a ₹5,124 crore contract that was signed between India and Russia for technology transfer and production of the modern rifles.

The Indian Army is the main customer for the Amethi factory, while the air force and navy too will get smaller batches. Paramilitary and police forces are expected to place orders in the future as well.

The rifles are being manufactured with a complete technology transfer clause that will also enable their exports to friendly foreign nations in the near future. In the past, the joint venture faced multiple challenges like payment-related issues due to western sanctions on Russia and a complicated technology transfer agreement.

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