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Killer AK-47 still a hit

The Kalashnikov rifle, designed in 1947, has been improved upon and is more lethal now, writes Sutirtho Patranobis.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2006 16:34 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis

Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov might have launched Kalashnikov vodka in 2004 but it is still the Kalashnikov assault rifle which is easily more famous -- and more lethal.

The stall exhibiting the various makes of the deadly assault rifle at the Defence Expo 2006 is one of the more popular ones, attracting military personnel and civilians. The rifle's 1947 design has been improved upon and it's now much more accurate, reliable and light.

Apart from the Kalashnikovs, the Russian delegation had on display air defence systems, self-propelled automated guns, reconnaissance systems, missiles, even a mobile field hospital. More than 350 items from 30 Russian companies are being exhibited at Pragati Maidan.

India is negotiating with Russia to purchase a comprehensive air defence system (S-300 anti missile shield) and a long-range multi-barrel rocket system (SMERCH) which can hit targets some 60 km away. A deal to supply two regiments of SMERCH has been finalised, Vyatcheslav Dzirkain, leader of the high-level Russian defence delegation announced on Thursday.

The Kalashnikovs may have stolen the show but the AN-94 Nikonov is said to be the new-generation assault rifle. All these and more are on display at the stall of Izmash, the company that manufactures these guns.

Alexandra A. Zavarin, deputy director general of Izmash, says the company has had talks and demon strations with the Maharashtra police, who are interested in single-shot rifles from the Saiga series of rifles. "These rifles have similar single-shot self-loading features, similar to AK 47 and AK 56 rifles, which have been used by the Indian police and paramilitary forces,'' Zavarin says.

The police and para-military in India are only allowed to use singleshot guns.

"We know there's a shortage of rifles among the paramilitary and police forces here. But the process is slow here,'' Zavarin adds. In fact, joint testing of the gun has been carried out.

"Demonstrations were given and joint testing of the rifle was conducted as well. The response was good,'' Zavarin says.

The NSAS rifle, the indigenous automatic rifle that the Indian army uses, is said to be based on the AK-74 model. It fires both single shots and automatic three-shot bursts.

The other guns on display include the Bizon-21m, a 9 mm sub-machine gun fitted with a telescope. The user can keep both his eyes open while aiming the gun at the target.

Deals with Russia Purchase of S-300 anti missile sys tem (provide a shield against mis siles) SMERCH multi-barrel rocket system (can hit targets, say, a tank 60 km away) Russia has offered to upgrade 700 T72 main battle tanks Also offered to upgrade Pechora air defence system.

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 16:28 IST