The Russian Defense Ministry has made a decision regarding its next infantry rifle: It will adopt everything, it seems. Not only will Russian Army forces receive the improved 5.45x39mm AK-12 (the new AK-12, not the different previous version), and the 7.62x39mm AK-15, but the 5.45mm Degtyarov AEK-971 and 7.62x39mm AEK-973 will be procured for special units as well. This “two-tiered” rifle mix is not unusual in the modern era, but a formal, simultaneous adoption of two such weapons is quite strange for a major military such as that of the Russian Federation. From Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) [machine translated from Russian with corrections]:
At the coordination scientific council it was stated that the leadership of the Ministry of Defense decided to adopt both 6P67, 6P68, AK-12 and AK-15 automatic weapons. Products JSC “V.A. Degtyarev ” have the best performance when firing from an unstable position, they are recommended for various special forces. The products of OA “Concern” Kalashnikov “by the criterion” of simplicity and reliability “are more suitable for combined arms units and subunits.”
Russian gunmaker Kalashnikov Concern confirmed the news on their Facebook page, stating [machine translated from Russian]:
The Russian Ministry of Defense adopted the Kalashnikov AK-12 and AK-15 assault rifles
A formal press release from Kalashnikov Concern is expected to follow shortly.
[EDIT: Well that didn’t take long]
Kalashnikov AK-12 and AK-15 assault rifles officially approved by Russian MoD.
Newest family of Kalashnikov assault rifles, the 5.45mm AK-12 and 7.62mm AK-15, are officially approved and recommended by Russian Ministry of Defense for issue to Infantry, Airborne and Naval infantry troops of Russian Armed Forces. New rifles were developed by “Kalashnikov” group according to the requirements, set during the “Ratnik” program that originally sought new tactical and combat equipment for Russian Special forces. Both AK-12 and AK-15 rifles have successfully passed all tests, including field trials by various units of Russian army and in various climate zones.
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.
Caliber: 5.45х39 (AK-12) or 7.62х39 (AK-15)
Length, overall: 880-940 mm
Length, shoulder stock folded: 690 mm
Barrel length: 415 mm
Weight, with empty magazine: 3.5 kg
Rate of fire: 700 rounds/min
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
This news is anything but a surprise to those who have been following the story closely. As early as 2014, Russian officials had prematurely “announced” the adoption of both weapons by the government, but these announcements were quickly retracted, and the rifle portion of the Ratnik program dragged on through 2017. In each case, the culprit appeared to be government officials speaking out of turn or some other leak, rather than official government news. Now, at least, there is some semblance of finality to this latest decision, which was announced at a scientific coordination council, organized by the Military Scientific Committee, and attended by industry and government personnel.
No announcement has yet been made as to whether the Russian government also intends to adopt the RPK-16 support weapon, which is based on the AK-12 and intended to replace the current (and aging) RPK-74 automatic rifles.
Thanks to Retiv for the tip!