Armenia starts producing Kalashnikov assault rifles
Armenia has started producing Kalashnikov assault rifles (AK-103s). The Armenian army will receive the first locally-made automatic rifles by the end of July.
The plant has opened at an interesting time in Armenian – Russian relations, with the opposition claiming the government’s relationship with Russia had been completely spoiled.
In a recent statement made by the leader of the Prosperous Armenia opposition party, Gagik Tsarukyan accused the authorities of “artificially escalating anti-Russian sentiments.”
Whenever possible, the authorities emphasise that there are no problems in relations with Russia.
“There is no, and there will not be any anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia, and no one is trying to, or will succeed in provoking an anti-Russian agenda in Armenia,” said Ruben Rubinyan, MP from the ruling My Step bloc.
How many rifles does the factory plan to produce?
At first, the AK-103 assault rifles will be assembled in Armenia using components imported from Russia. But over time, the entire production process will take place in Armenia.
The plant is part of the Neutron Research and Production Association. It is scheduled to produce 50,000 rifles every year.
This is a large number for the Armenian army alone, so most military experts believe that some of the weapons will be exported. However, the management of the company has not yet commented on this possibility.
In addition to Kalashnikov assault rifles, the plant produces nanofibers and products from nanofibres. In particular, they manufacture optoelectronic devices, night vision and thermal imaging devices.
Due to the fact that Armenia plans to carry out the full production process within the country, an additional large industrial zone is being built in the city of Abovyan (10 kilometers from the capital). This is where they will produce ammunition of various calibers. It is reported that in general this factory will provide up to 1200 new jobs.
Arms deals in Armenia
A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) states that over the past 5 years, almost all weapons imports to Armenia have come from Russia.
For example, last year, Armenia acquired a large number of weapons and military equipment from Russia. The report on the implementation of the Armenian Government’s program for 2019 shows that they purchased Su-30SM fighter aircraft, and TOR-M2KM and Osa-AK anti-aircraft missile systems. The Armenian army also acquired artillery, hand weapons, ammunition, anti-aircraft mounts and hundreds of vehicles.