Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2021-03-01

Kalashnikov: Much More than the World’s Best Assault Weapon

By: Sakha Pramod
 
The Kalashnikov Group of Companies is the largest Russian manufacturer of automatic and sniper weapons, guided artillery shells, and a wide range of precision weapons.

Kalashnikov is the flagship of the domestic shooting industry, it accounts for about 95 per cent of the production of small arms in Russia. The Group now produces not only small arms, but also specialised military and civilian systems, such as remote-controlled combat modules, unmanned aerial vehicles, multifunctional special-purpose boats, and products for the space industry.

The Group’s products are supplied to more than 27 countries of the world. The Kalashnikov Group’s AK-19 premiered at the recently concluded IDEX 2021 and the CEO Dmitry Tarasov talked to Nation Shield on where the defence major stands today.   
 
The Kalashnikov Group is known the world over primarily for AK 47. Is it still your flagship product?
Well, our Group no longer manufactures the legendary AK 47 as it was originally designed in 1947.  But its best qualities and its world renowned reliability are embodied in the modern AKs of 100 and 200 series as well as the state-of-the-art “Ratnik” series AK-12 chambered for 5.45, Ak-15 chambered for 7.62, AK-19 chambered for 5.56 and AK-308 chambered for .308Win.
 
Our AK-19 was first showcased for the global market at IDEX 2021 and it was one of the top premieres at the exhibition in terms of media coverage and public attention.
 
 To how many countries do you export your products and with which countries do you have joint ventures?
We are exporting our products, both commercial and military purpose, to dozens of countries all over the globe.  Among our most popular export items are our famous assault rifles for the military, paramilitary and special target forces. Besides, we offer commercial arms for hunting and shooting sport, high-precision projectiles and missiles, speedboats and UAVs.
 
We have a few joint projects of licensed production and joint venture type. A graphic example of the latter is a JV in India that hopefully would start production by the end of the year. As for licensed production in 2020, we launched a facility in Armenia, with the first batches of AK-103 series produced last year.
 
You are a leading Russian manufacturer of automatic and sniper combat firearms, guided artillery munitions, and a wide range of high-accuracy weapons. Which of them other than AK 47 are the most popular and why?
 Well, we have hits in all of the mentioned segments. And we never stop developing them or launching new products. The backbone of success is never to become complacent with what you have and to try to think a little ahead of time. A graphic example is that in 2021-22, we are launching a dozen new products. It is our motto never to stop inventing, producing and promoting new products.

I hope that our new “Ratnik” series of assault rifles will be popular and it’s AK-12, AK-15, AK-308 and AK-19 assault rifles will find favour with our customers, no matter which rounds and calibres they are used to. Our AK-19 for 5.56 NATO round has a good chance of becoming a real hit as it is the first Kalashnikov assault rifle in decades designed for this most widely used ammunition calibre.
 
Notably, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who visited the Kalashnikov exposition at IDEX paid special attention to AK-19.
 
You have diversified into other segments. What are your niche products in UAVs?
 Our subsidiary ZALA AERO produces a whole range of civilian and combat UAVs. Its civilian items are used by the leading Russian oil and gas producers such as Rosneft, Gazprom, and Novatdk. They can monitor pipelines in areas with little or no physical access such as the Far North of Russia and remote districts of Siberia. The cameras and sensors these UAVs are equipped with can detect leakages and abnormal concentration of gases to prevent emergencies.
 
At IDEX we also unveiled a hybrid unmanned complex ZALA VTOL. The unique complex ZALA VTOL combines the best qualities of fixed-wing and multi-rotor types of UAVs and can change the configuration depending on the mission.
 
It is an effective solution for performing air monitoring for the complex fuel and energy search and rescue operations to ensure safe take-off/landing from unprepared sites in urban environments, as well as hard-to-haul routes. We believe our commercial UAVs can be of particular interest to the Middle East market.
 
Kalashnikov is also into military shipbuilding. Can you tell us more about that?
 Among our products are high-speed assault and troop carrying boats Bk-10 and Bk-16. They are designed to carry troops to any type of littoral zone, patrolling and landing troops fire support, as well as rescue operations. These speedboats can be equipped with automatic grenade launchers and 7.62 and 12.7 mm automatic guns.
 But we also have new non-military naval items. The amphibious Haska-10 is a cutting-edge hoover that can transport personnel and cargos through water, ice and other wild terrain areas.
 
 What are the latest products from your stable that were displayed at IDEX?
 We have been preparing for IDEX as it is the first defence expo we were visiting out of Russia in the last two years. We brought the items that would be of particular interest for the regional market. Apart from AK-19 and ZALA VTOL, we showcased PLK compact pistol for police and law enforcement agencies.

Our major commercial premiere was of MP-155 Ultima smart-shotgun equipped with a camera and a computer that can help one track his/her shooting progress and synchronise the data with a smartphone.
 
Besides that, we presented our new high-precision fire and forget missile 9 M333 that would be of particular interest for the countries that already operate “Strela -10M” AMDS. And, of course, our new Modular Carry System designed to meet the very high requirements of the special target forces, we hope it would find a market here in the Middle East too. 
 

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