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Indian Air Force signs emergency deal for 70,000 AK-103 Rifles

AK-203 is 7.62x39mm assault rifle. (Titianis Rex/Wikimedia Commons)
August 30, 2021

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has sealed an urgent contract to procure 70,000 AK-103 assault rifles designed by Kalashnikov from Russia under the emergency clause to replace the aging inventory of INSAS rifles that have been used by IAF for two decades.

IAF officially ordered a total arsenal of 150,000 new assault rifles for its troops. To balance the great, urgent need, AF chose AK-103 rifles, which are expected to arrive within the next few months.

The deal conveys India’s fire need for new affordable firearms to support ground forces, especially those deployed. This new rifle acquisition will energize IAF’s capability to respond to terrorist attacks more effectively alongside the Indian Army.

The contract is worth an estimated 3 Billion Rupees, and was signed last week to fulfill the urgent provisions required by IAF. The 70,000 AK-103 assault rifles from Russia will be delivered with ammunition and maintenance kits provided by the OEM.

The current local production of rifle contracts for the advanced AK-203 assault rifles is being considered under the Army which requires around 6.5 lakh of these rifles to strengthen its troops’ firepower. This firearm will make up the bulk need for service rifles for soldiers. Prior to this, the IAF requirement was fulfilled by the acquisition of around 4,000 Sig Sauer battle rifles that have been procured as part of a larger contract by the Indian Army. The SiG 716i is being used by ground troops today.

Since the deadly Galwan clash between the Indian Army and PLA troops triggered India’s movement to arm its forces with advanced weaponry, especially after the Chinese aggression on the Eastern Ladakh front, Indian defense forces have accelerated the speed of modernization of service firearm systems for troops operating at the front on-ground operations. They have already been provided with 1.5 lakh SiG 716i battle rifles along with over 16,000 Israeli-made Negev Light Machine Guns.