Russia's largest firearms manufacturer, Izhmash, has unveiled a prototype of its new Kalasnikov assault rifle with improved ergonomics and tactical flexibility.
The new assault rifle, dubbed AK-12, is being designed as a basic platform for the development of nearly 20 different modifications of the weapon. It could be adapted for cartridges varying from 5.45x39 mm to 7.62x51 NATO.
The state tests of the rifle may begin at the end of 2012 despite the fact that the Russian Defense Ministry has not shown interest so far in the new weapon citing the financial difficulties of the Izhmash company and a huge surplus of AK-74 assault rifles (about 17 million) in the Armed Forces.
Izhmash said on Wednesday that the testing of the AK-12 will continue and the company will offer the rifle to foreign customers and Russian police.
Russia's Interior Ministry has reportedly ordered about a hundred AK-12s for testing by its personnel.
According to Izhmash designers, they “adapted the weapon to modern combat requirements, having preserved Kalashnikov's unique qualities - simplicity, reliability and relatively low production cost.”
The rifle features three firing modes: single shot, three-shot burst and automatic fire. The muzzle of the AK-12 has been designed to shoot foreign-standard barrel-mounted grenades.
The weapon is also equipped with Picatinny rails to mount optical, and night sights, grenade launchers, target indicators and other special equipment.
The AK-12 has a folding stock, and a height-adjustable heelpiece. The weapon can be used by both left-handed and right-handed people, and can be easily handled with one hand.
The development of the new family of sophisticated and effective assault rifles is a priority for the future of the company, which has been experiencing severe financial difficulties and even filed for bankruptcy.