India To ‘Speed-Up’ Acquisition of AK-203 Rifles, Arming Israeli Heron Drones

The Indian Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday cleared acquisition projects worth Rs 8,722.38 crores, ranging from trainer aircraft to tank ammunition.

HAL, BHEL Bag ‘Big Contracts’ For Trainer Aircraft, Super Rapid Guns From Indian Defense Ministry

According to a recent press release by the Ministry of Defense, the DAC also gave approvals which are “likely to speed up” the procurement of AK-203 rifles and upgrades for UAVs- expectedly the arming of Israeli Heron TP drones operated by the Air Force and the Army.

The AK-203 rifle manufacturing plant is to be set up at Amethi, with a license from Kalashnikov Concern- the Russian OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for these rifles. The deal is expected to be inked with the planned visit of Putin to India in October 2020.

In a big boost to indigenous manufacturing, the DAC also cleared the acquisition of 106 HTT-40 trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

“With Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) having successfully developed Basic Trainer Aircraft (HTT-40) Prototypes and certification process underway, the DAC approved procurement of 106 Basic Trainer Aircraft from HAL to address the basic training requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF)”, stated the report.

Post Certification 70 Basic Trainer Aircraft will be initially procured from HAL and balance 36 after operationalization of HTT-40 fleet in IAF. HAL’s share price jumped by 4% after the approval by the committee.

For the Army, the DAC approved the procurement of the 125mm APFSDS (Armour-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot) ammunition for the Indian Army’s cavalry units which include the T-90S/MS and upgraded T-72 “Combat Improved Ajeya” tanks having the 125mm smoothbore main gun.

Interestingly, the ammunition is to be procured as a ‘Design and Development case’ for the Indian armour, having a 70% indigenous content. This is aimed to give a push for the DRDO and OFB to manufacture and indigenously develop quality ammunition at a faster pace.

The Navy’s pending acquisition approvals were also given a nod by the DAC, for the procurement of Super Rapid Gun Mounts (SRGMs) from the state-owned company BHEL. The SRGMs will arm the warships of the Navy and the Coast Guard, mentioned the report.

“The upgraded version of SRGM has enhanced capability to perform against fast manoeuvring targets like missiles and Fast Attack Crafts and increase the maximum engagement range”, it said.