Why does the US want to buy Kalashnikov assault rifles

Image source: Донат Сорокин/ТАСС

The Drive: The Pentagon is looking for an AK-74 supplier for the Ukrainian army The US Department of Defense is looking for suppliers of Kalashnikov assault rifles chambered in 5.45 mm caliber.

Russian AK-74, German MPi AK-74 and Romanian md are suitable for these requirements.86. At the same time, as the American media write, they will not buy weapons from Russia. There is no data on the number of required submachine guns, nor on who the batch of weapons will be intended for. "Newspaper.Ru" figured out why the United States needed AK-74 assault rifles.

The Command for Contracts of the Ground Forces in New Jersey (USA) at the end of last week posted a notice on the search for "potential sources of supplies of AK-74 Kalashnikov assault rifles and spare parts for it." The American edition of The Drive drew attention to this information. At the same time, the publication notes that neither the parties interested in acquiring this type of weapon nor the specific purposes of using the AK-74 are indicated.

"For what purposes the command wants to purchase these weapons, it is not entirely clear, but the AK-74 is one of the predominant types of small arms in the Ukrainian army," the article says.

The peculiarity of the order is that the purchase of these weapons from Russia is not provided.

However, the United States should not have any problems with the purchase of AK-74 assault rifles - a fairly large number of them are stored in Eastern European countries, especially since we are not talking about a gratuitous transfer, but about purchases.

Only at the Izhevsk Machine-Building Plant (part of the Kalashnikov Concern) from 1974 to 1993, more than 5 million units of this machine were produced. There were 11 foreign variants based on it, produced in 9 countries, and exactly how many units of them were produced was not counted. For example, only in the GDR a licensed machine gun with the MPi index AK-74N was in service with the army and police, the total number of which exceeded 430 thousand people.

The production volumes of this machine were large in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Since 2011, Azerbaijan has been producing the Khazri assault rifle, developed for Baku by Izhevsk gunsmiths based on the AK-74, under a Russian license.

After 1991, Ukraine received a huge amount of weapons from three former Soviet military districts (Kiev, Odessa and Carpathian), including small arms. It was systematically sold, while it was in price, and destroyed. Since 2005, Kiev has signed an agreement with the NATO Logistics and Supply Agency (NAMSA) with an obligation to destroy excess stocks of weapons and ammunition.

For example, in 2010, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved a decision on the disposal of 214,334 small arms, including 97,625 AK-74.

Some of the submachine guns were upgraded, turning into "Vepr" ("Boar"), "Vulkan-M" ("Malyuk"), the quality of the "new models" was not liked by the AFU fighters themselves, who preferred the "Soviet" AK-74, but their number was limited.

In the current Pentagon application for the purchase of AK-74 assault rifles, it is noted that the Russian-made assault rifles, which were previously supplied to other countries, are of the greatest interest to the United States.

With a large number of AK-74s in more than twenty countries, in their "pure" form - the production of Izhmash - there are not so many of them. There are still such in Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. There are even in Cuba. It is clear that not all of them will respond to the US request. The request is primarily focused on those countries that are friendly to the United States and those that are NATO countries.

The US Department of Defense emphasized during the procurement that in addition to the Russian-made AK-74, they are considering the possibility of acquiring German MPi AK74 and Romanian md.86, which are most suitable for the requirements for the machine. Numerous versions of clones still being produced in a number of countries are not being considered. First of all, because in the process of national modernization, they are already significantly different from the original AK-74 due to attempts to combine the machine with other models. Which suggests, which was voiced by the American media, that the machines can still be intended specifically for Ukraine as the most adapted to the existing standards in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

"For the United States, it is not the manufacturer that is important here, but the version of the machine gun that is a full-size AK-74, as close as possible, so to speak, to the requirements of GOST," he told the newspaper.En" weapons expert, editor-in-chief of Kalashnikov magazine Mikhail Degtyarev. - There are not so many of them, and the existing export potential that remains is not so significant.

Theoretically, the production of the AK-74 can be adjusted to order, using the available capacities, which are now partially mothballed. The same Serbian arms factory "Partizan", which works for 90% of the American market, would undertake such an order.

However, the Pentagon prefers to purchase existing German and Romanian versions, it's just more profitable. As for the American "daughter" of Kalashnikov USA, there is a rather murky story with this company, which did not fulfill the conditions for the localization of its activities. They focused on the AKM 7.62 mm caliber, which was partially oriented to the domestic market and to a greater extent to the East. It makes no sense for Americans to deploy AK-74 production on their territory, it is easier to organize it in Europe, and even better to buy existing ones. In the USA itself, the demand for the 5.45-mm caliber is insignificant, respectively, it makes no sense to invest in production for the sake of Ukraine."

The Pentagon's purchases of AK-74 assault rifles, even regardless of the country or countries to which their subsequent deliveries are supposed to be, run into another significant problem. These are cartridges of 5.45x39 mm caliber. Similar ones are still produced in Hungary, Poland, Germany, partly in Israel under the Fort-221 machine gun.

In Ukraine itself, after the loss of the Lugansk cartridge factory in 2014, the production of ammunition, especially automatic cartridges, could not be adjusted.

In their purchases, Kiev is more focused on the countries of the former Warsaw Pact, where they are stored in arsenals, as well as on the remaining producing countries. It is clear that after 2014, there are no Russian arms and ammunition companies in the list of exporters of Ukraine.

Victor Sokirko

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