Russia’s largest firearms manufacturer, JSC Izhmash, unveiled its first model of the fifth-generation Kalashnikov assault rifle. The Russian Defense Ministry tentatively called the new model the AK-12. Izhmash’s chief designer, Vladimir Zlobin, initiated the development, and in 2011, completed the assembly. “Researchers are currently field-testing the new weapon,” an Izhmash spokesperson said Wednesday.
Russia’s Interior Ministry requested models of the AK-12 for testing. Izhmash is ready to arrange the deliveries of the AK-12 for the Russian army as well, Interfax reports. Russian news agencies reported Wednesday that the Defense Ministry of Russia does not plan any purchases from Izhmash in the 2012 defense budget. Designers are developing the AK-12 for export. However, it also meets the Russian Defense Ministry’s requirements, which are stricter regarding equipment for the Russian army. If there is an order, the enterprise will be ready to arrange the shipments of the AK-12 to the Russian Armed Forces and special units of the Russian Federation. The state tests for the rifle may begin at the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013.
“Developing the new family of automatic rifles is a priority for the further development of Izhmash. The company intends to regain its international market share,” officials said. For the time being, the company will test the AK-12 in-house. Designers could change the construction and ergonomics of the rifle as a result of the tests. “We will have to conduct many consultations with competent specialists who are interested in the creation of a state-of-the-art, effective and reliable Russian assault rifle,” Vladimir Zlobin, the designer of the rifle said. Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was the first Russian official to have seen the AK-12. Designers adapted the weapon to modern combat conditions, having preserved Kalashnikov’s unique qualities: simplicity, reliability and relatively low production cost.
The AK-12 has classic a configuration, which creates a constructively simple automatic rifle with an option to mount powerful muzzles and large magazines. Designers created the new rifle as a basic platform, which operators can use for the development of nearly 20 different modifications for civil and military firearms. The caliber of cartridges used for the new rifles may vary from 5.45х39 to 7.62х51 millimeters. Designers also enhanced the ergonomics of the new rifle, making the controls of the rifle ambidextrous. They also integrated Picatinny rails in the construction of the AK-12. The rails will be useful in mounting additional equipment.
The new rifle also has a folding stock, and a height-adjustable buttstock. Operators have the option to mount the charging handle of the AK-12 on either on the left or on the right, which makes the weapon comfortable for left-handed and right-handed shooters. A list of firing options includes three fire modes: single shot, three shot burst, and automatic fire.
To increase the efficiency of the single shot setting, the AK-12 is equipped with new iron sights that feature enhanced capabilities. The AK-12 also uses state-of-the-art coatings and materials. Designers will introduce over 10 technological advancements and patents when they eventually release the various models of the assault rifle.