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In response to an Indian MoD Request for Information (RFI) for the procurement of 650 000 assault rifles of 7.62×39 mm caliber under ‘Make in India’ program, an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) to explore the possibility of a joint venture for manufacturing the latest Russian Kalashnikov AK-103 assault rifles in India could be signed during President Putin’s visit to India.

The AK103 is the third generation of the Kalashnikov assault rifles, an upgrade of the popular AK47 and AKM rifles of Russian origin.

The AK103 has plastic folding butt stock, an attachment for mounting under-barrel grenade launchers, and a standard mounting rail for installation of optical, collimator or night sights; a more sturdy breech locking assembly allowing the use of new higher-performance cartridges; lower total weight of simultaneously moving parts and a muzzle brake-compensator.

If concluded, the agreement could lead to negotiations and the selection of an Indian partner for manufacturing the rifles in India.

This August, the head of the Russian Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation Dmitry Shugaev has informed Indian media that Russia’s Rosoboronexport could participate in the project to create an Indo-Russian Joint Venture to produce AK-103 rifles.

According to defenseworld.net, once established, the JV could also explore modernization of the Indian security establishment’s existing stock of 5.56mm caliber rifles to 7.62mm caliber.

The JV will also have to explore export opportunities to third countries.

The Indian MoD is looking for two types of rifles; the first, a highly accurate rifle with a high rate of fire meant for front-line forces and the second, a lighter assault rifle meant for infantry troops. The AK-103 could fit the fill for the second type of requirement.

Recent reports say that the Indian MoD is looking for a replacement for its locally-made INSAS rifles made by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). It is probable that the OFB could be selected as a partner in the AK-103 program given its already established manufacturing infrastructure for the INSAS assault rifles.