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"A guided missile "Whirlwind" for unmanned vehicles will appear"

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Image source: ИЗВЕСТИЯ/Дмитрий Коротаев

Alan Lushnikov, President of Kalashnikov Concern JSC, spoke about the new capabilities of the UAV, the modernization of the AK—12 and the beginning of serial deliveries of the microwave sniper rifle

Serial deliveries of the upgraded Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle and the new microwave sniper rifle to the troops will begin this year, Alan Lushnikov, President of Kalashnikov Concern JSC, said in an interview with Izvestia. Work is actively underway on arming aircraft crews, drones and barrage ammunition are constantly being improved, which became a discovery during the SVO. When the UAVs will receive guided missiles, whether the concern intends to develop a sniper sight and how the issue of dependence on imported components is solved — read in an interview with Alan Lushnikov.

— The Kalashnikov Concern is known for the brand of small arms, in particular, assault rifles. The AK-12, which entered service with the Russian army before the start of the special military operation, received different reviews. Now you are already carrying out its third modernization. How does this weapon develop?


JSC "Concern "Kalashnikov".
Source: IZVESTIA/Dmitry Korotaev

— We are moving towards ergonomics and, so to speak, consumer qualities of weapons. The modernization that has been carried out now is aimed at making it easier and more effective for the fighter to solve the tasks that he faces.

For example, this concerns the requirements that were rigidly prescribed in the terms of reference regarding the automatic fire switch: single shot, double, and automatic fire. The double shot did not show its expediency, so we are removing this switch. At the same time, we make a two-way translator of the fire mode.

We have upgraded the sighting device — the new automatic rifle has a flip sight for several standard shooting distances. Now there is a sighting device for each distance.

— When the special military operation began, the Russian army had problems with collimator sights, they actually did not exist. What has been done in this direction?

— I have already mentioned the diopter sight. There was a rolling rear sight, which, depending on the distance, makes it possible to quickly and effectively aim.

The sighting device is an additional configuration that the customer chooses. AK-12 makes it possible to install any device depending on the needs of the fighter. We offer such an opportunity. And already the Ministry of Defense should determine the configuration and set this or that task.

— Is there already an understanding of what the military department wants?

— Of course, there is an understanding. And our optical industry is ready to meet all needs.


— When will the deliveries of the AK-12 of the third series begin? And what are the plans for the supply of additional equipment — sighting systems, silencers, etc.?

— We start deliveries of the machine itself from the second half of the year, as promised. Now the relevant tests are being completed, we are launching weapons into production. As for the sighting devices, here, rather, a question for the customer.

— Another well—known brand of the Kalashnikov concern is the Dragunov sniper rifle (SVD). Now a microwave rifle of your own production is being offered to replace it, it is being operated in the troops. What feedback do you get about it, and can you expect it to be put into service?

— Reviews of the microwave according to the results of military operation are the most positive. We are already making the first serial delivery to the troops this year.

Dragunov Sniper Rifle

Image Source: Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

But the issue of replacing the rifle is a big serious work that we must do together with the customer. And SVD shows itself very well despite the fact that she is already 60 years old. This is a very good effective weapon that works in its niche.

Microwave is an attempt to give additional quality in the same segment. This is a semi-automatic rifle, which should work at a greater distance with better accuracy than the SVD. In addition, it makes it possible to install different devices for the work of a sniper.


— Do you carry out any work on the modernization of the SVD?

— SVD with a folding butt (SVDS) is an extremely popular weapon, still very reliable and effective. We worked a lot with this, looked for modernization potential and came to the conclusion that we need to move to another level, to another product. Which we did. But in the form in which it is now, SIDS is supplied and in demand.

— One of the key problems of sniping is the lack of a full—fledged Russian sniper scope. We have good private developments, but they do not provide mass production. Does the concern carry out work on the creation of sniper sights, including for SVD and microwave? Can we expect them to be delivered to the troops?

— This is not really our profile. Optical design bureaus and factories are engaged in this. We work with them. In particular, the Novosibirsk plant gave a very good sight for the microwave. And this is not the only manufacturer. As for the sighting devices, we believe that the customer's needs are met.


A serviceman of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
Source: RIA Novosti/Pavel Lisitsyn.

— The issue of arming pilots is being actively discussed in the expert community. SVO has shown that pilots need weapons. As we know, now, albeit belatedly, new systems for their protection and rescue are being developed. In particular, Lebedev's pistol appeared in the pilot's kit. What are the reviews about it, and is there an understanding that this will not be a temporary step, and Lebedev's pistol will be included in the pilots' equipment kit?

— Initially, we made Lebedev's compact pistol (PLC) for the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Tests have been carried out, and it has been adopted. In its current form, it was delivered to the Ministry of Defense for flight crews. There are already pilots who have used this gun, and we have received only positive feedback.

I am sure that this is not a temporary, but a conscious decision of the customer. We have adjusted the requirements for the needs of the Ministry of Defense. We are currently finalizing the pistol and will conduct tests for the necessary parameters for the military department.

— What are the differences between the versions for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and for the Ministry of Defense?

— A lot of details have been changed, but it won't be a new gun. It will be a modified Lebedev pistol.

— Has the issue of heavier equipment for pilots been resolved? Are there any of your developments, suggestions or something, maybe, has already been adopted?

— We have created a Kalashnikov PPK-20 9x19 caliber submachine gun. In my opinion, this is for some period the pinnacle of design thought in the segment of submachine guns. And we believe that it is very well suited for pilots as an additional weapon. Now we are carrying out the relevant work together with the Ministry of Defense.

We are already supplying PPK-20 to the Armed Forces, but not yet for flight personnel. As for the pilots, work is underway to develop requirements and assess the applicability of these weapons for them.

Kalashnikov PPK-20 submachine gun

Image source: Photo: RIA Novosti/Ramil Sitdikov

— You are developing a set of equipment VKPO 3.0. What is this system?

— Kits 1.0 and 2.0 were developed by other manufacturers. VKPO 3.0 is the result of several years of our hard work. We originally created it for the needs of special purpose units. Then, when there was a serious need, and the volume of purchased uniforms increased dramatically, we offered our developments to the Ministry of Defense. Now there is a military operation of a large serial batch, it shows a good result. Positive reviews prevail.

In our kit, users like first of all ergonomics, the quality of the material and tailoring.

We are working very closely with the customer and will increase production volumes.

— What volumes of supplies are we talking about? Will all the Armed Forces be dressed in this uniform or only some individual units? At some point, VKPO 1.0 was demolished and the military began to buy everything in a row and were not very similar to the military. Will we be able to dress up the Armed Forces in this kit?

— Uniforms have been received by the troops, the reviews are good. The customer asks for more. We will do as much as we are ordered. Where and how the new kits will arrive is the competence of the customer.

— Why was the Multicam color chosen?

— That was the decision of the Ministry of Defense.

— Are there any difficulties with the supply of fabrics? After all, the holder of the MultiCam patent is an American firm ...

— No one has called us to the patent court yet. Maybe we still have to do that.

Photo: RIA Novosti/Vitaly Timkiv

Image source: iz.ru

— I can't help but ask about unmanned systems. SVO showed in places the lack of necessary components for them. Do we have serial development of FPV drones now?

— FPV drones really, in a sense, became the discovery of this conflict. There are a lot of nuances, including those related to the work of the operator. Both the training and the skilled work of the operator is a serious challenge.

This is a large open niche of the market, there are many manufacturers represented on it, they make very good equipment. And our developments are there too.

— What products are we talking about?

— We produce and supply barrage ammunition in the format of FPV drones. They are very cheap. In flight, they carry the necessary explosive charge. They work very well.

In general, drones and FPV drones in particular are not only the aircraft itself. There are a lot of technical elements that should work well and constantly evolve: a control system, navigation, communication. For each of these elements, there is a daily competition between us and the enemy. The modernization process takes place online.

— We know that for a long time FPV drones were assembled from components that are supplied, in particular, from China. Has the gap in the material base been overcome? Are there any developments of our engines, control systems, etc.?

— Work is underway in this direction, but I would not talk about it in more detail. This is a very delicate and sensitive issue: the availability of the component base, the development of production here — I would leave it behind the scenes. But the direction of development is absolutely correct. Because any import delivery is your vulnerability as a manufacturer.

Kamikaze barrage drone "ZALA Lancet"

Image source: Photo: RIA Novosti/Mikhail Voskresensky

— Its symbol is the Lancet drone and other Zala devices. Could you tell us about these developments?

— These are products that have been developed for a long time. Such devices were used even in the Syrian theater of operations. A very long way has been passed in the development and modernization in very close cooperation with the Ministry of Defense. This is the fruit of a lot of serious work.

If we talk about the use of barrage ammunition, any of them is the result of a whole range of operations. To hit a target, it is necessary to detect and identify it, determine the coordinates, load the flight task and send ammunition to that area.

The complex includes a scout, aka a repeater, and the barrage ammunition itself. The latter is triggered when there is a goal and a decision about its defeat.

Barrage ammunition is a strategic direction of our development. We form this reconnaissance and strike contour based on the needs of the customer by types of targets, by the distance of work, by the combat unit that is needed. Our task is to offer the customer a technical solution for all threats, for all work options. Especially relevant now is the work in counteraction with the means of electronic warfare of the enemy. This is the direction that everyone is working on now.

— Can we expect an updated line of barrage ammunition in the foreseeable future?

— We do not stop work for a single day. I will definitely tell you about the results.

— How are the work on the aircraft guided missiles "Whirlwind"? How much are they in demand?

— A lot of work has been done, a rocket has been developed and put into production. Now the "Whirlwind" is showing itself very well, this is a question of the effective operation of Ka-52 helicopters. During the Ukrainian counteroffensive, they demonstrated high efficiency. The product is in demand, it has the potential for modernization. There is something to work on in terms of range, warhead. This rocket has a future. Integration into other carriers, in particular the Mi-28, is a very serious process, and it is underway. I wouldn't talk about the timing right now, but work is underway.

Pilots of the army aviation of the Southern Military District launch an anti-tank guided missile "Whirlwind-1" during training on the Ka-52 combat helicopter

Image source: Photo: RIA Novosti/Vitaly Timkiv

— Will this missile remain armed only with aviation equipment, or will you also offer an option for unmanned aerial vehicles?

— The integration of any, let alone guided weapons, into any aircraft is a big, serious job. The development of unmanned aircraft as a carrier of guided weapons is a very important promising direction.

As a manufacturer, we are interested in this and see serious potential. There is such a need. But to integrate a rocket with an unmanned vehicle, a lot of serious work is needed. It's not a question of tomorrow.

— Is there any progress in this direction? What will a rocket adapted for drones look like? Will it have reduced dimensions?

— There is a plan, it is at the stage of conceptual elaboration. The Whirlwind itself is a very good rocket. To understand how it integrates into a particular aircraft, it is necessary to carry out very serious work together with the chief designer of the aircraft product itself. We are at this stage now. It is too early to say whether it will be a lightweight rocket or whether we will be able to integrate it in the form in which it is now, or whether it will be some other rocket.

In other words, a "vortex" for unmanned vehicles will appear, but what it will be will be determined during development.


Alexey Ramm

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