Updated: November 24, 2021 4:53:10 am
THE DEFENCE Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared the long-pending proposal for a deal with Russia to manufacture 6 lakh AK 203 assault rifles for the Army in India, sources confirmed on Tuesday. The deal had been struck over several points for nearly two years, including negotiations over technology transfer.
The DAC also cleared a proposal to acquire two satellites for the Indian Air Force to help them communicate beyond the line of sight.
The deal for the assault rifles, to be manufactured by Amethi-based Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited, is expected to be worth around Rs 5,000 crore, and the final approval comes ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in the first week of December. It is likely to be signed in Putin’s is presence.
The deal is part of the Inter-Government Agreement with Russia, under which the first 70,000 rifles will be off-the-shelf, after which the transfer of technology for the guns to be made in India will begin.
Russia had earlier demanded royalty over each gun to be manufactured in India but later it waived the clause. There were a few other issues that had been stuck in negotiations, which have largely been sorted out, the sources said.
Production will begin next year, and the first indigenously made rifles are likely to be delivered within 32 months. The new assault rifles will replace the indigenously manufactured Indian Short Arms System (INSAS) rifles.
Over the past two years, the government had to place an order for nearly 1.5 lakh American Sig Sauer rifles to meet the shortfall of guns available with the armed forces.
The joint venture was supposed to be between Russia’s Kalashnikov and India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). But after OFB ceased to exist earlier this year, making way for seven new Defence Public Sector Undertakings, the venture will now be with Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited.
A statement issued by the Defence Ministry after Tuesday’s DAC meeting, however, was quiet on the rifles deal. It stated that the DAC chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for one capital acquisition proposal of IAF for its modernisation and operational needs, amounting to Rs 2,236 crore, for procurement of GSAT-7C satellite and ground hubs for real-time connectivity of software defined radios (SDRs).
“The project envisages complete design, development and launching of satellites in India,” the statement said. The deal will be for two satellites which along with the ground hubs and SDRs “will enhance the ability of our Armed Forces to communicate beyond Line of Sight among one another in all circumstances in a secure mode”.
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