By Anthony Bell
Russia’s Kalashnikov Group unveiled its newest PPK-20 9 mm submachine gun (SMG) and AK-203 7.62 mm assault rifle at the Army 2021 international military-technical forum being held in Kubinka (Moscow Region) between August 22 and 28. The PPK-20 is the first Russian military-grade SMG, which was primarily intended for field units. At the Army 2021, Kalashnikov presented a lighter variant of the firearm intended for pilots of aircraft. The SMG is chambered for 9×19 Parabellum cartridge and has retained the renowned operational scheme of the Kalashnikov assault rifle. The firearm weighs 2.5 kg and features a rail interface system for sights and shooting accessories. The PPK-20 has already passed through state trials.
The new SMG can also be used as a personal defence weapon (PDW) for the crews of combat vehicles, logistics support units, and special operations in urban areas. The PPK-20 supports installation of any optical, red dot, and optical-electronic sighting systems. It should be mentioned that the firearm is compatible with all STANAG 2172 Parabellum/Luger ammo and therefore has high potential for export.
Kalashnikov places an emphasis on the development of its capacities to conduct licensed manufacturing of firearms abroad. In March 2019, Russia and India established the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) Company in Korwa (Uttar Pradesh, India) to produce AK-203 assault rifles under license. According to a representative of the Kalashnikov Group at the Army 2021 show that the manufacturing processes could be launched within several months after signing of a firm contract. “When a firm contract is signed, it will take us a few months to commence the deliveries of the first assault rifles produced in India under license,” said the representative of the company.
The AK-203 assault rifle was also showcased at the Army 2021, the latest iteration of the Kalashnikov firearm chambered for the venerable 7.62×39 cartridge. The weapon’s exterior has been fully rebuilt – it now features a slotted muzzle brake/flash suppressor, an integral Picatinny rail interface system for sights and shooting accessories, an ergonomic pistol grip, a folding telescopic stock, and a magazine that allows controlling ammunition consumption.
The assault rifle is compatible with all types of sighting systems and can be used round the clock by any military service and law enforcement unit. The AK-203 weighs 3.8 kg, is powered by 30-round plastic magazines, and is accurate at 800 m. The firearm can be supplied with a 40 mm under-barrel grenade launcher for low-velocity grenades.
The Kalashnikov Group also masters new operating schemes and develops firearms with interchangeable barrels. At the Army 2021, the company has unveiled its newest carbine AKB-521, which is intended for the civilian market. It features an inverted U-shape upper receiver, a unibody MIL-1913-STD (Picatinny) rail for sights, and a detachable grip of the bolt carrier assembly. The carbine is supplied with three barrels for 5.45×39 (M1974), 7.62×39 (M1943), and 5.56×45 (.223 Remington) ammo. Therefore, the AKB-521 also features high export potential as it can be quickly reconfigured.
The enterprise largely invests in the development of high-precision weapons. At the Army 2021 show, Kalashnikov unveiled its new S-8L 80 mm laser-guided missile, which can be used by all fixed-/rotary-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that carry the renowned S-8 unguided rockets. The S-8L has a range of fire of up to 6 km and can engage both soft targets and light armoured vehicles. The enterprise also integrates its newest Vikhr-1 anti-tank guided missile for new air platforms, including Mil Mi-28N, Mi-28NE, Mi-35P, and Mi-28UB combat helicopters and Orion-E UAVs. The Kalashnikov Group and JSC Instrument Design Bureau (a subsidiary of Rostec’s holding High-Precision Weapons) also upgrade the Vikhr-1 to the Vikhr-1M standard.
The Kalashnikov Group’s Zala Aero has intensified the development of new unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). The company has finished the main stage of the state trials of its new KYB-UAV kamikaze-type UCAV. The design of a swarm technology for the KYB-UAV vehicles. Zala Aero has also started developing a marinized variant of the KYB-UAV that can be operated from landing boats and special naval platforms.
(The author is an Independent Military Analyst. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)