The maker of the AK-47 -- the world-famous assault rifle -- has announced plans to double the production of the gun in the next three years, despite the company being on a U.S. sanctions list aimed at Russian arms manufacturers. The expansion plan also includes upgrading the capabilities of the highly popular rifle.
Aleksey Krivoruchko, CEO of Kalashnikov Concern, reportedly said that the company, which currently produces 150,000 units of the gun, plans to ramp up output to about 300,000 units in the next three years. The company will purchase new hardware, reconstruct its manufacturing facilities and reorganize the assembly line to achieve the higher output, according to a report by Russia Today.
Krivoruchko said that the company, which was formerly known as Izhmash and is based out of the same factory where famed AK-47 creator Mikhail Kalashnikov worked, also intends to improve the assault rifle’s capabilities with new technological upgrades.
“We have also set the task of designing and manufacturing such weapon models that would combine modern technological and design solutions – like, for example, advanced ergonomics, design modularity, use of wear-resistant coatings, which withstand any influences, including heat, constant friction and moisture,” Krivoruchko reportedly said.
The Russian arms manufacturer, which is the country’s largest producer of military automatic and sniper weapons, guided artillery shells as well as civilian hunting and sporting rifles, has already increased the production of the rifle five-fold to 150,000 units from the 31,000 units it produced last year.
In July, several Russian companies including Kalashnikov Concern and air-defense systems manufacturer Almaz-Antey were put on a U.S. sanctions list over events in eastern Ukraine, preventing them from applying for mid- and long-term loans from the U.S. as well as from signing contracts with U.S.-based firms. After the sanctions barred the sale of new Kalashnikov rifles in the U.S., firearms made by the Russian gun-maker have reportedly been in high demand in the country.
Saiga rifles and shotguns, based on the tried-and-tested Kalashnikov design and manufactured by the same company, is reportedly popular among American gun enthusiasts as well as law enforcement agencies due to its rugged and reliable design. The company also sells its guns to nearly 30 countries around the world, including the UK, Germany, Norway, Italy, Canada, Kazakhstan and Thailand, according to Russia Today.
The famous AK-47 or Kalashnikov, the world’s most popular and widely-used assault rifle was first designed in 1945 by Mikhail Kalashnikov, a Russian engineer in the former Soviet Union. The gun has been in production for the last six decades and has built a reputation in the many armed conflicts around the world that it has been used in. The rifle, popular among various military factions, is reportedly available in nearly every part of the world and is significantly cheaper to produce compared to its Western counterparts.