The latest AK-12 assault rifles have been delivered to Russia's Defense Ministry ahead of schedule reported TASS, the Russian News Agency. The Kalashnikov Group completed the 2020 deliveries of the weapon, which was adopted by the Russian Army in 2018 following a recommendation of the Ministry of Defense.
"We have completed the fulfillment of the 2020 defense procurement plan for the AK-12 assault rifle in record time," said Kalashnikov Group CEO Dmitry Tarasov as reported by TASS.
"The arms production facility in Izhevsk has already launched the 2021 work [for fulfilling the defense procurement plan]," Tarasov added. "The tasks to ensure the country’s defense capability and effective interaction with all customers remain our priorities."
This latest delivery was for more than 700 of the latest Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifles for the Russian Special Operations Forces. The rifles had officially entered service with the Southern Military District forces that are stationed in the Krasnodar Territory. Last July, some 8,000 AK-12s were also delivered to military units in the Central Military District.
The 5.45mm AK-12 will eventually replace the Russian AK-74 rifles, which have been used since the Cold War. The Russian military is expected to receive 112,500 AK-12 rifles by 2021.
This new weapon is distinguished by its improved ergonomics compared to its AK-74M and AKM predecessors, said the Russian Ministry of Defence, which also highlighted the AK-12's increased accuracy, the unique survivability of its barrel and the new production technology that went into making it.
The AK-12 has been highlighted as a crucial part of the Ratnik "soldier of the future" combat outfit for Russian troops. This includes a new combat uniform that utilizes lightweight body armor designed to protect up to 90 percent of a soldier's body, as well as a highly-integrated, wireless networked communication system that provides greater situational awareness and sharing of vital information and intelligence between each soldier and unit.
The AK-12 was only selected after a lengthy and robust trial to find a replacement for the legacy AK-74, but as The National Interest has previously reported it also puts the spotlight on "how the Russian military's arm procurement is highly resistant to change. The heart of the new AK-12 is practically unchanged from the first AKs that rolled off the production line in the 1940s: it features largely the same fire control group, long-stroke gas operation and rotating two-lugged bolt." This new weapon features three firing modes: single shot, three-shot burst, and automatic fire.
The AK-12s are produced by Kalashnikov Concern, an affiliate of the Kalashnikov Group, which is the largest Russian manufacturer of assault and sniper weapons, as well as the Vikhr-1 guided missiles. The company also makes a range of non-defense products including hunting guns and rifles, sporting firearms and machines and tools. It is also the renowned maker of the AK-47 assault rifle.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress.