The new joint venture between India and Russia to manufacture the Kalashnikov assault rifles' 200 series will be able to fulfil Indian security agencies' requirement for small arms, Russian President Vladmir Putin said in a message read out by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi today.
The AK-203 will replace the INSAS rifles being used by the Army and other forces. The immediate target is to produce 7,00,000 AK-203 rifles in the facility, official sources said.
"The new joint venture will manufacture world famous Kalashnikov assault rifles of the newest 200 series and eventually will reach full localisation of production. Thus, the Indian defence-industrial sector will have the opportunity to fulfil the needs of national security agencies in this category of small arms, resting upon advanced Russian technologies," Vladimir Putin said in his message.
He said military and technical cooperation has traditionally been one of the key areas of the special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India.
"For more than seven decades, we have been supplying reliable and high-quality armaments and equipment to Indian friends. Around 170 military and industrial facilities have been set up in India with assistance from our country," the Russian President said.
It was during his official visit to India last October that Vladimir Putin and PM Modi reached an agreement on producing Kalashnikov rifles in India.
The inter-governmental agreement was prepared and signed in the shortest possible time. "In this regard, I would like to express gratitude to Russian and Indian specialists, to all those who so promptly made this project happen," the Russian president said.
Vladimir Putin said he is convinced that commissioning of the new enterprise will contribute to stronger defence potential of India and to further advance the scientific and industrial basis of the national economy.
It will be instrumental in terms of creating new jobs for a qualified work force and will provide an impetus to professional education and personnel training, he said.
"The plant itself will become another symbol of friendship and constructive cooperation between our two countries," he said in his message read out by the defence minister.