Feb 16, 2021
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“Works in any conditions”: what are the export prospects of the AK-19 – the new Kalashnikov assault rifle

Within the framework of the largest arms exhibition in the Middle East, the Kalashnikov group of companies will present the newest AK-19 assault rifle, created for the NATO cartridge of 5.56 x 45 mm. It was developed on the basis of the AK-12, adopted by the Russian army. AK-19 is equipped with a telescopic butt of an original design, a new diopter sight and a quick-release device for silent and flameless firing. Experts note the great export prospects of the new machine.

The Kalashnikov group of companies will for the first time present to the foreign public the latest AK-19 assault rifle chambered for 5.56 x 45 mm, which has been adopted by NATO countries. Representatives of the concern told reporters about it.

“The world premiere of the AK-19 will take place at the largest arms exhibition in the Middle East IDEX 2021, which will be held from February 21 to 25 in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi,” the Kalashnikov press service said.

Representatives of the concern stressed that the AK-19 has already attracted interest among customers from the Middle East, where the standard cartridge for small arms is 5.56 x 45 mm. The company noted that the AK-19 will operate reliably in hot, humid and dusty climates.

Dmitry Tarasov, General Director of the Kalashnikov Group of Companies, emphasized that the new machine is aimed at foreign customers.

“The AK-19 uses the 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge, which was adopted by NATO and is widely used in the world. Thus, our newest machine is completely focused on the foreign market. Presenting the AK-19 at the largest international arms exhibition IDEX, we are sure of great interest in it from foreign customers, the first applications from which are already being received, “said the head of Kalashnikov.

A highly demanded modification

For the first time, the AK-19 assault rifle was presented at the Army-2020 international military-technical forum. It is equipped with Picatinny rails (a rail-mounted bracket for easy mounting of scopes and other equipment), a lightweight telescopic stock with improved ergonomics, a new diopter sight and a quick-release device for silent and flameless shooting.

The new assault rifle weighs just over 3.3 kg with a barrel length of 415 mm.

  • Servicemen with AK-12 assault rifles
  • ©

The AK-19 was created on the basis of the AK-12 assault rifle, which was put into service in Russia in 2018. The technical advantages of the AK-12 are improved ergonomics, increased accuracy and accuracy of fire, the ability to install a variety of sighting systems on weapons. The basic version of the machine is available in 5.45 mm caliber. The modification for the 7.62 mm caliber was named AK-15.

AK-12 is supplied to combined arms formations, AK-15 – to special units of the army and other power structures. Both assault rifles have the same weight (3.5 kg), barrel length (415 mm), magazine capacity (30 rounds) and overall length (880-940 mm).

It was the AK-12 that initially attracted the attention of foreign customers who were interested in the possibility of using it with a 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge, Vladimir Onokoy, head of the directorate for military-technical cooperation of the Kalashnikov concern, told RT on the sidelines of the Army-2020 forum …

“When the AK-12 began to enter the Russian Armed Forces, there was a great deal of interest in it abroad. Our concern began to receive applications for the 5.56 mm caliber, which is used in about a hundred countries around the world. As a result, we were given the task of quickly developing a sample for export, ”Onokoi said.

As the representative of the concern noted, even states that have never used Kalashnikov assault rifles before are showing interest in the AK-19.

NATO standard

By the middle of the 20th century, NATO countries were unifying the standards of ammunition used in small arms of their armed forces. The main type of personal small arms in the armies of the NATO countries were automatic rifles – weapons chambered for 7.62 x 51 mm.

However, it soon became clear that this ammunition had excess power for modern machine guns and was too heavy.

In the late 1950s, the American designer Eugene Stoner proposed using a low-impulse intermediate caliber 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge in the new AR-15 army rifle of his design. This assault rifle has attracted the attention of the US military as a promising type of small arms. It was put into service, which led to the widespread adoption of the 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge by all branches of the US Armed Forces.

  • Eugene Stoner and Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • © Wikimedia / Sergeant. Chris Lawson

In 1970, NATO countries signed an agreement to adopt a single smaller caliber cartridge to replace the 7.62 x 51 mm. In 1980, the members of the alliance agreed that it would be a 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge, which was approved in the STANAG alliance standards.

It should be noted that low-impulse intermediate caliber cartridges were also developed in the USSR. So, the Soviet army in 1974 adopted the 5.45 x 39 mm cartridge, which is still used by the Russian Armed Forces as the main one.

Today, the 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge is used in a large number of countries that were European colonies in the 20th century and where the factory facilities were adjusted to produce cartridges of this caliber, military expert retired colonel Viktor Litovkin explained in an interview with RT. The emergence of Russian weapons under this cartridge will contribute to its proliferation in these countries, the expert said.

“On the one hand, it strengthens the Russian economy, on the other, it advertises the world’s best weapons, Russia itself, and even has a certain political influence,” he said.

The expert stressed that Kalashnikov assault rifles have enjoyed high prestige in many countries for many years.

“This is due to the unpretentiousness of the machine, which works properly in any conditions, unlike American, European rifles and many other types of weapons. Therefore, the AK-19 assault rifle has good export prospects. I am sure many countries will want to purchase this product, ”Litovkin said.

Military expert Yuri Knutov, in a conversation with RT, noted that adaptation to the 5.56 mm cartridge will allow the AK-19 to maintain the high reliability and characteristics of the AK-12 and AK-15 assault rifles.

“Its characteristics indicate that the assault rifle is quite accurate, while being quite light. The Picatinny rail allows you to install a variety of equipment, including night and sniper sights, underbarrel grenade launchers. This machine has a colossal number of advantages: for example, you can fire with a single cartridge or three cartridges in automatic mode, ”the expert emphasized.

The appearance of such weapons on the world market can be regarded as a positive step for the concern and for Russia, Knutov noted.

“This is not only the receipt of funds from the sale of weapons, but also the popularization of Russian technology in the world. Undoubtedly, this machine will be very popular abroad. In addition, countries such as India, Egypt, Algeria, Venezuela are interested in not only buying, but assembling such machines in their own country, ”the military expert concluded.

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