Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Idex 2017: AK-47 rifle maker Kalashnikov has UAE factory in its sights

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are both being considered as potential locations for a Kalashnikov factory, according to the chief executive of its parent Rostec, the Russian military conglomerate.
Denis Manturov, the Russian industry and trade minister, checks out one of the assault rifles at the Kalashnikov Group stand at the International Defense Exhibition & Conferences 2015 in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National
Denis Manturov, the Russian industry and trade minister, checks out one of the assault rifles at the Kalashnikov Group stand at the International Defense Exhibition & Conferences 2015 in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National

The world’s most famous assault rifle could be made in the UAE under plans being considered by its owner.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are both being considered as potential locations for a Kalashnikov factory, according to the chief executive of its parent Rostec, the Russian military conglomerate.

Sergey Chemezov made the disclosure in an interview with The National on the sidelines of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex) in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

“Currently we are discussing an opportunity to open a plant to manufacture Kalashnikov weapons somewhere in the Gulf countries,” said Mr Chemezov.

“We are deciding on here or Saudi Arabia,” he added.

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

The plan to establish a base in the region comes as Kalashnikov is seeking to attract private sector investment.

Kalashnikov plans to increase the production of arms by as much as 80 per cent this year and create 1,700 jobs.

Its export orders have grown more than fourfold over the past two years, reaching US$230 million in 2016, “despite sanctions”, the group said in January.

A US ban on imports of the weapon under sanctions imposed over Russia’s interventions in Ukraine forced Kalashnikov to diversify and embark on cost cuts. The group’s chief executive Alexey Krivoruchko said that the challenge was being able to meet growing demand.

The AK-47 was developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov after the Second World War, inspired by complaints he had heard from Russian soldiers about their rifles while convalescing after a shoulder wound in 1942. It has been standard military issue in Russia since 1949.

It is believed that AK-47s have caused more deaths than artillery fire, air strikes and rocket attacks combined, according to broadcaster RT.

“I sleep well. It’s the politicians, who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence,” he said in 2007.

He died in 2013 at 94.

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scronin@thenational.ae

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Updated: February 20, 2017 04:00 AM

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