Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

Idex 2015: World’s best known assault rifle maker takes to the skies as Kalashnikov enters drone market

The drones will be designed for uses such as patrolling state borders as well as special operations and mapping.
The legendary Russian weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov is to enter the drone market. AFP
The legendary Russian weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov is to enter the drone market. AFP

The company behind the Kalashnikov plans to manufacture drones for the first time as international sanctions hit Russia’s arms industry.

Kalashnikov Group, part of the Russian state corporation Rostec, is taking a 51 per cent stake in Zala Aero, a drone maker.

“At first, sanctions had a strong impact,” said Aleksey Krivoruchko, the chief executive of Kalashnikov. “Before, most of our products were civilian weapons sold mostly to the USA. Right now most of our sales are military weapons sold to other markets.”

The move into the fast-expanding drones sector is part of a push to add new revenue streams to the world-renowned company.

“Our main product here will be intelligence-gathering pilotless airplanes, helicopters and aerostats,” said Mr Krivoruchko.

The drones will be designed for uses such as patrolling state borders as well as special operations and mapping, the company said.

Famed for its reliability in conflicts from Vietnam to Afghanistan, there are thought to be more than 100 million AK-47 assault rifles in circulation.

Battered by international sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, Russian arms makers have launched a major sales offensive in the Middle East. There are 47 Russian companies exhibiting at this week’s International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex), which got under way in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Kalashnikov is Russia’s biggest maker of automatic weapons and is looking to expand its range of products through new acquisitions.

The company also revealed plans to make military and civilian use boats through a 51 per cent acquisition of Euroyachting Rybinskaya Shipyard.

That will give it the capability to make landing craft, as well as search and rescue launches.

Drone makers from around the globe descended on Abu Dhabi this week to display unmanned driving, flying and floating vehicles that are being put to an increasingly broad range of civilian and military uses.

Spending on unmanned aerial vehicles will more than double over the next decade to more than US$11.6 billion, according to research from Teal Group. Besides military uses, drones are also becoming more widely used by civilians and companies.

scronin@thenational.ae

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Updated: February 22, 2015 04:00 AM

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