Focusing On Indigenous Military Technology: Army Chief Manoj Pande

The Army Chief also confirmed that the Indian Army will receive 70,000 AK-203 assault rifles within the next 32 months, out of a total of 6 lakh

The Indian Army is focusing on indigenous military technologies, according to Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande, who addressed the media on Thursday ahead of Army Day on 15 January. He also said that the Army would receive the first AK-203 assault rifles in March 2023.

According to Gen Pande, the Indian Army is encouraging projects for niche and advanced military technologies through indigenous development because “leveraging niche technologies is extremely important, considering the potential that we have in the country.”

Specialised military technologies

Gen Pande claimed that the Army has established a single point of contact, a nodal agency at the army headquarters – the Army Design Bureau (ADB) – to address niche military technologies.

“Technologies are also encouraged through the Ministry of Defence's iDEX. The Army has launched ten projects through the iDEX,” he added.

The Army Chief highlighted the growing engagement with leading universities, including the Army Cell in the IITs, in highlighting the thrust for research and development. “We will use our Emergency Procurement to encourage such innovations; we will evaluate and put them on field trials,” General Pande said.

He also emphasised the importance of Aatmanirbhata in developing futuristic autonomous aerial systems and space-based capability.

The Indian army recently placed orders for 2,000 drones, some of which will be used to transport vital supplies to higher altitude posts. Some of the drones will be used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions in high-altitude areas such as Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and other strategic locations.

The delivery schedule for the AK-203 assault rifle

The Army Chief also discussed the AK-203 assault rifle's delayed production timeline. “We will receive 70,000 of the 6 lakh plus AK-203 assault rifles within 32 months,” he said. The indigenous content in these will range between 5 and 17 per cent. The remainder will be entirely indigenous.

India and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement in 2019 to establish Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited, a joint venture to manufacture the AK-203 assault rifles. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a project to produce new-generation assault rifles for the Indian Armed Forces, replacing the existing Indian Small Arms System (INSAS).

The Army will receive the first 5000 AK-203s in March. “We will meet the timeline as we go,” the Army Chief added.

The Indian Army chief also emphasised the infrastructure development along the LAC, which includes roads, bridges and tunnels.


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