As the United States Army marches towards acquiring the LSAT (Lightweight Small Arms Technologies) light machine gun for their infantry, Russia’s Defense Ministry recently purchased the newest family of Kalashnikov assault rifles for Russian soldiers.

Russian soldier aims the new AK-12 assault rifle. (Source: Sergey Bobylev, TASS)

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed in January that it acquired advanced Kalashnikov AK-12 and AK-15 assault rifles for service, which shoot 5.45×39 mm and 7.62×39 mm cartridges, respectively.

“A decision has been made on the AK-12 and the AK-15. The submachine guns have been recommended as armament in the ground forces, the airborne force and [naval] infantry,” the Kalashnikov press office said in January, according to Russian News Agency TASS.

AK-15 (left) and AK-12. (SourceVasily Raksha) 

Kalashnikov Group CEO Alexei Krivoruchko told TASS that a series of field training exercises were completed with the advanced assault rifles last year. He added that the firearms manufacturer would be shipping the advanced weapons to the Russian Armed Forces in 2018.

“New Kalashnikov rifles combine famous, battle-proven high reliability with modern ergonomics, increased hit probability and capabilities to effectively use all modern accessories, from red dot, night and IR sights to underbarrel grenade launchers, forward grips, lasers and flashlights, sound suppressors and more.

AK-12 and AK-15 rifles share most of its arts and assemblies, with key differences being in the ammunition used. AK-12 is chambered for Russian Army standard issue 5.45×39 ammunition, while AK-15 is chambered for older, but still very popular 7.62×39 ammunition. “Kalashnikov” group also designed compact versions of both rifles, known as AK-12K and AK-12K, which are better suited for CQB use by Special Forces, or as Personal Defense Weapons for heavy armament and vehicle crews,” the Kalashnikov Group said in a press statement.

The AK-12 and AK-15 specifications:

  • Caliber: 5.45х39 (AK-12) or 7.62х39 (AK-15)

  • Length, overall: 34-37 inches

  • Length, shoulder stock folded: 27 inches

  • Barrel length: 16.33 inches

  • Weight, with empty magazine: 7.7 lbs

  • Rate of fire: 700 rounds/min

  • Magazine capacity: 30 rounds

Russia Beyond Tests The AK-12 Assult Rifle: 

The advanced assault rifles are part of the Russian military’s “Ratnik” program, which is designed to create future infantry combat systems, including upgraded body armor, high-tech kevlar helmets with special eye monitor (thermal, night vision monocular, flashlight), and communication systems. Initially, only Russian Spetsnaz will receive the AK-12 as part of the Ratnik program, while ground troops will continue using AK-74 into the early 2020s.

According to Dmitry Semizorov, the CEO of the Central Research Institute of Precision Machine-Making, Russia’s Ratnik combat gear has been successfully tested in the Syrian civil war.

“You all probably know that the Ratnik was used in Syria and I want to say that the combat gear proved its worth during combat operations. We checked the combat outfit that was used in difficult situations in one way or another. I want to assure you that none of the elements of the combat gear’s protection was ever pierced,” said Semizorov.

While the global arms race between Washington and Moscow is clearly evident, what we do know today is that both countries are rapidly modernizing their standard military rifles before the next major shooting war.

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