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Atmanirbhar Bharat in action: Indigenous manufacture of AK-203 rifles begins

The Indian Army is replacing its older Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles with more advanced weapons and the AK-203 is expected to be a key part of this upgrade.

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Atmanirbhar Bharat in action: Indigenous manufacture of AK-203 rifles begins
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The Indian Army has started getting its much-anticipated AK-203 assault rifles despite earlier setbacks from a joint venture with Russia. The delays were mainly due to the war in Ukraine and payment issues. According to official sources, the initial shipment of 27,000 rifles from the Indo-Russian joint venture in Korwa, Uttar Pradesh, has reached the Indian Army.

Despite early delays, the process has now smoothened out, according to an official familiar with the deal. The army had received 27,000 rifles, and another 8,000 are expected to arrive in the next two weeks, he said, adding that roughly 25% of the rifle components are now being manufactured in India. 

The joint venture between India and Russia aims to increase these rifles’ indigenous production to 70% over the next couple of years. This will not only reduce reliance on foreign imports but also create jobs and strengthen the Indian defense industry.

The AK-203 Rifle: Reliable & Versatile

The AK-203 is a modernised version of the classic AK-47 assault rifle. It features better ergonomics, a folding stock, and Picatinny rails for attaching sights and other accessories. The Indian Army is replacing its older Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles with more advanced weapons and the AK-203 is expected to be a key part of this upgrade.

The INSAS rifle belongs to a family of arms—which includes assault rifles and light machine guns—manufactured for the infantry. It has been the standard rifle for the Indian armed forces but is being gradually replaced by more modern rifles, such as the AK-203.

One of the characteristics of the AK-203 rifle is that it is extremely accurate even at long distances and has an effective range of 400 metres. It is also shorter and lighter compared with the INSAS rifle, which is an advantage in battle scenarios. It can be fitted with an under-barrel grenade launcher—a device that attaches beneath the barrel of a rifle and allows the shooter to launch grenades without needing a separate weapon—or a bayonet.

All models can also use quick-detachable tactical sound suppressors, which are devices that can be easily attached to, or removed from, the end of a rifle’s barrel. These suppressors reduce the noise and flash produced when the gun is fired, making it harder for enemies to detect the shooter’s location.

The AK-203 rifle uses 7.62-mm NATO-grade ammunition, which is more powerful. It can fire up to 600 bullets per minute, which translates to roughly 10 bullets every second. The rifle can operate in both automatic and semi-automatic modes. The exceptional feature of AK-series rifles is their reliability—they almost never jam. Kalashnikovs perform well in extreme weather conditions and can function effectively even in sand, dirt, and water.

Understanding the Firing Rate of AK-203 Rifle

The AK-203 can hold only 30 bullets in a single magazine. When we say it can shoot 600 bullets per minute, it refers to the rifle’s rate of fire in fully automatic mode. This means that if one continuously fires the rifle, it can, theoretically, discharge bullets at a rate of 600 rounds per minute. 

However, in practical terms, one would need to reload the magazine multiple times to sustain this rate of fire. 

Here is a breakdown

Single Magazine: Holds 30 bullets

Its Rate of Fire: The rifle can discharge bullets at a rate of 600 rounds per minute, which is equivalent to 10 bullets per second

The Reloading: To maintain firing at this rate, one would need to reload the magazine repeatedly since a single magazine holds only 30 bullets. So, the 600 rounds per minute figure is a measure of the weapon’s firing capability rather than a practical scenario with a single magazine.

(The author of this article is a Defence, Aerospace & Political Analyst based in Bengaluru. He is also the Director of ADD Engineering Components, India, Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany. You can reach him at: girishlinganna@gmail.com)

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