In a bid to boost its arms manufacturing and export strength, the Narendra Modi government has confirmed a Rs 12,000 crore contract with Russia to manufacture a derivative of the iconic AK-47 assault rifles. They will be made at a centre in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh.
India will manufacture nearly 7.5 lakh such Kalashnikov guns and export as well under the inter-governmental accord.
The development comes days after India bought 72,400 new Sig Sauer assault rifles from the US for Rs 654 crore which will be used by its frontline soldiers deployed on the Indo-China border.
PM Modi is likely to inaugurate the ordinance factory for manufacturing the Kalashnikov guns in Amethi on February 28, The Times of India reported. The operations at the manufacturing facility will be overseen by an Indian Army Major General.
The Russian government will have 49 per cent share in the joint venture. The Union Defence Ministry had earlier urged the government for procurement of 6.5 lakh assault rifles of 7.62×39 mm calibre.
The government also put to rest the rumours of the Adani group partnering with the Russian government for manufacturing the guns and instead handed over the contract to state-run ordinance factory. It comes at a time when the opposition has cornered PM Modi over favouring Anil Ambani's company in the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale jet contract with French company Dassault Aviation.
India's defence budget this year has been increased from Rs 2.74 lakh crore to Rs 2.96 lakh crore with the arms procurement and manufacturing accounting for a major chunk of the defence expenditure.
Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat had earlier stated that they are in the process of procuring new sniper rifles, personal protection equipment and assault rifles.
What is a Kalashnikov?
Kalashnikov rifles are automatic guns named after its manufacturer Michael Kalashnikov. Although the earliest models were produced by Russia, versions of the automatic rifle - also called Kalash - is now being produced by many countries.