Mumbai, Nov 8: Russia's Kalashnikov Concern, makers of AK-47 assault rifles, is in advanced discussions with Indian companies to manufacture certain weapons here and is open to sharing technology with local partners.
Known as one of the best assault rifles of the 20th century, AK-47s are now being reportedly used more by non-state agents than national defense personnel. For many years now, Russia has officially stopped supplying these fine automatic rifles to the country.
"From the early 2015, discussions are in right earnest, even though several Indian companies have been interested to produce Kalashnikov assault rifles since 2008," Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash) chief executive Alexey Krivoruchko told PTI in an email interview.
"We are in talks with both public as well as private companies in India. But it is a bit early to offer any specific names, as we are still at negotiations," he said. He added that it is not engaged in any talks with the defense ministry "on our own and if necessary our Indian partner will handle those issues".
Krivoruchko said previous discussions did not yield any results as the interested parties could not obtain the license to manufacture small arms from the government. He said that excluding cost of utilities and manufacturing facilities, the partners together will have to cough up around USD 100 million (about Rs 650 crore) to begin production.
The quantum of investment will depend on the contribution in the form of land, manufacturing facilities, equipment and so on made by the local partner and on the target level of indigenization to be achieved, he said.
On the expected scale of production, Krivoruchko said, "We are looking at least 50,000 items per year initially with and a potential of scaling up production in the future.
" Whether the company is ready to transfer technology to the partner, he said that "if the project is a success, the local partner will gain access to the most advanced small arms technologies, including high-speed chromium plating, protective coatings, manufacturing of high-strength plastic components".
On whether Kalashnikov has identified the models to begin production, Krivoruchko said Indians are primarily interested in the 5.56-mm and the 7.62-mm individual automatic weapons. "However, we are prepared to customise weapons to meet any customer requirements and expand the range of products."