Idex 2021: Russia’s Kalashnikov seeks joint ventures in Gulf as it unveils new assault rifle in Abu Dhabi

Exclusive: The state-owned arms maker, renowned for its rifles, aims to increase revenue to 50bn roubles by 2025

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 22, 2021.  Idex 2021 Day 2.
Dmitri Tarasov, Kalashnikov Group CEO with the MP-155 Ultima, 12 guage semi-automatic shotgun.
Victor Besa / The National
Section:  NA
Reporter: Fareed Rahman
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Russian arms maker Kalashnikov is pursuing joint ventures as it seeks to sell new products in the Gulf and grow its annual revenue by more than 60 per cent by 2025.

The state-owned manufacturer has set a revenue target of 50 billion roubles ($676 million) by 2025, up from 30bn roubles last year, chief executive Dmitry Tarasov told The National on Monday on the sidelines of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference.

It expects sales to grow 25 per cent each year.

Kalashnikov plans to boost revenue through new product sales, expansion and continued growth in its home market, where it produces about 95 per cent of all small arms in the country, he said.

Mr Tarasov said the company's biggest foreign markets were in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. However, he declined to reveal new target markets.

“The growth will be driven by defence firearms, robotic systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, civilian products for medical purposes and also machines,” he said.

“We are looking at expanding in the export markets which we already have and we are also open for co-operation in other regions.”

The worldwide debut of Kalashnikov's AK-19 rifle is taking place at Idex, the Middle East's biggest defence expo.

Chambered for 5.56x45 rounds, one of the most popular rifle rounds in the world, the weapon was developed specifically for the export market.

The company is confident it can secure orders from foreign customers and has already begun to receive inquiries.

Kalashnikov, which previously signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to build a plant for the production of AK-103 assault rifles in the kingdom, said the first phase of the project is under technical evaluation.

“After Covid-19 measures are lifted, then there will be more progress,” said Mr Tarasov.

He said the timetable for the project has yet to be formulated.

Kalashnikov is also in the “final stage” of negotiations to set up a production plant in India, he said.

The company plans to boost its presence in the region with products such as assault boats and hunting guns.

“We are looking for partnerships ... it is not just establishing new facilities; we are also looking for co-operation in terms of defence firearms, civilian hunting firearms, pistols and fast assault boats [such as the] BK10 and BK16,” he said.

“We are also looking at modular carrier systems manufactured by one of our subsidiaries called Group 99.”

He revealed that the company is in discussions with several countries and clients but would not disclose further details.

“We are also looking at direct sales and shipments, not just joint projects for the manufacturing. We are open for co-operation and partnership,” said Mr Tarasov.

He said some of the company’s shipments were postponed to 2021 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Idex 2021 day two – in pictures