The New Russian Small Arms Program: “Warrior” has three separate reports (in Russian) on the Russian government’s program to replace its aging generation of small arms. The two leading contestants appear to be the heavily modernized Kalashnikov design AK-12, and the balanced-action AEK-971. According to the first report, the Russian military is seeking to replace the AK series with a more accurate weapon – it’s possible that by this they mean accuracy in the full-automatic fire mode, something that has long plagued the Kalashnikov family of rifles. This speculation is supported by the extensive research undertaken by Russian designers to improve this characteristic. The second article states that the program is expected to take 15(!) years to fully implement; however it seems this includes not just new small arms, but also sighting systems, electronics, and body armor, as well as other equipment. The third article goes into even more depth: The Russians have learned many lessons from the low-intensity counter-insurgency conflicts that characterize modern warfare, and are designing the new “Warrior” equipment around this – which means high levels of coordination between elements of the combined arms force.

    It remains to be seen how much success the Russians have with this program – a similar, but perhaps more ambitious US program called Future Combat Systems proved to be mostly a flop, though greater integration of combined arms forces was eventually achieved, albeit not to the extreme degree desired by FCS.

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]