Reliance Defence, Israeli company to make Kalashnikov weapons for INDIAN ARMY
Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd of the Anil Ambani Group is planning to manufacture Kalashnikov class of weapons for Indian armed forces in a joint venture with an Israeli company . The Israeli arms maker, Kalashnikov Israeli Company, has agreed to jointly make Kalashnikov and other small arms with Reliance Defence, according to industry sources.
The manufacturing facility could come up at the Pipavav shipyard. Reliance Defence will hold 51 per cent stake in the joint venture, while the rest of the stake will be held by Kalashnikov Israel. Kalashnikov Israel is a subsidiary of the CAA Company of Israel. Industry sources said the tie-up could be formalised during the ongoing visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The small arms requirement from the three armed forces, paramilitary forces, and states police is in the range of about two million units over the next 10 years.
With such a large requirement of the weapons, the potential market size is about ?6,000 crore. It is expected that more than 80 per cent of the weapon requirement for the forces will be assault rifles and carbines, whereas the balance will be for pistols and other weapons. The Indian Government had notified Small Arms Act 2016 in July. As per the new rules, a licensing committee within the MHA has to approve the grant of Licence for Small Arms and Ammunition to the Private Sector Companies.
For Reliance Defence, the licensing process could take over six months, sources said. The Kalashnikovs and other guns would be made under the Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) category introduced in Defence Procurement Policy 2016. Attempts would be made by Reliance Defence to indigenise the manufacturing process to over 60 per cent, which will also meet the Make in India and Skill India programmes, sources said. Sources pointed that the share of AK 47 rifle and its variants are nearly 20 per cent of the estimated 500 million firearms available worldwide. The low production cost of Kalashnikov family of weapons as compared to other assault weapons have further added to the popularity of Kalashnikov.
Indian forces regularly engage in close quarter combats, where Kalashnikov is a proven weapon. Both companies could also possibly collaborate on upgrading and refurbishment of old weapons such as .30 Springfield rifles, which are still being held in large quantity by Central and State Police forces, sources added. A spokesperson of Reliance Defence said that the two companies are in talks but refuse to elaborate further.