Considering the current state of affairs, the presence of several promising projects and the expected events of the foreseeable future, several years ago the Russian Ministry of Defense launched a program to modernize the existing AK-74 and AK-74М. A technical assignment was formed, in accordance with which the program participants were to draw up a set of measures to update the existing machine gun with an increase in part of operational and combat characteristics.
The developers of the new project were required to retain all the main elements of the existing weapons, but to supplement them with new devices and devices. The military wanted to get improved ergonomics, accuracy of fire, etc., as well as expand the possibilities for the use of weapons. The new program of the Ministry of Defense received the code "Obves". People familiar with the terminology of the weapons industry could immediately understand the objectives of the project.
According to known data, the desire to participate in the design work "Obves" expressed immediately six domestic enterprises engaged in the release of the actual small arms and additional devices for it. One of the project participants was the recently established Kalashnikov concern, which included various defense industry enterprises. The AK-74 automaton modernization project from this organization received the working designation KM-AK (“Modernization kit - Kalashnikov assault rifle”).
As reported, the Kalashnikov concern led the development of a new project on its own initiative. Specialists took into account the requirements of a potential customer, but the work was financed only by the concern, without the participation of the Ministry of Defense. Using this approach, the company was able to form the basic principles of the new project and define a new image of the existing automaton.
The first public demonstration of AK-74M machines with a set of KM-AK “Obves” was held on May 9 of the year 2015. Several parade calculations, which took place on Red Square, were armed with the machine guns of the existing model, which were modernized according to a new project. The renewed weapons expectedly attracted attention and became the topic of discussion. However, the interest of specialists and the public to the system "Obves" was much more modest than in the case of other innovations presented at that parade.
A few days before the first demonstration of attachments of the Kalashnikov concern, he revealed some technical details of the project. It was argued that when firing at a distance of up to 300 m at any time of day and in different climatic conditions, the criterion "frequency of injury" increases 1,5 times. Also in the message of the company mentioned certain features of the project, such as a list of new units, compatibility with additional equipment, the presence of various modifications, etc.
According to reports of the 2015 spring, the KM-AK kit provided the ability to equip the machine with various attachments, such as day and night sights, laser designators, flashlights, etc. The possibility of using a bayonet or grenade launcher was retained. Three options of the kit were suggested. The first was designed for general military units, the second was intended for military intelligence, and the third was planned to offer special operations forces. As noted, the products of the KM-AK kit were compatible not only with AK-74M guns. It was argued that the "body kit" could be mounted on a weapon caliber 5,45 and 7,62 mm.
In the future, the Kalashnikov concern has repeatedly demonstrated a new type of kit at various exhibitions and demonstration events. At the same time, it was possible to notice that the automata from different shows had certain differences. This indicated that the testing of the developed set was continuing, and its individual elements are still being improved. Due to this, in the foreseeable future, the most successful version of KM-AK could be put into service.
In mid-June 2015, just a few weeks after the “premiere screening”, new messages appeared about the progress of the project and its prospects. On the eve of the Army-2015 military-technical forum, the Kalashnikov concern announced that a new type of modernization kit would soon be put into the army. The general director of the concern, Aleksey Krivoruchko, also said that the first order has already been completed, and that there is a contract with the Ministry of Defense for the supply of “body kits”. A few days after these News The kit was again shown to the public and the military.
At the same time, it was announced that the “Kit” system in the “Kalashnikov” version is distinguished by maximum simplicity and versatility. All elements of the kit are fully compatible with any existing AK weapons. In this case, the necessary devices can be installed on the machine in the minimum time and in any conditions. It takes no more than 15-20 minutes. All work can be performed by army units, without sending weapons to the plant.
In November, 2015, the new work of the Kalashnikov concern was awarded a prize. The Expert Council of the Union of Scientific Engineering and Public Offices decided to award the concern to them. M.T. Kalashnikov for creating a promising universal set of modernization of automatic machines.
In 2016, the enterprise-developer told about the possible development of events in the foreseeable future. The Kalashnikov Concern planned to receive an order from the Ministry of Defense for the massive modernization of existing machines of existing types. However, the approximate volumes of the possible order were not called then. It is known that in the units and in the warehouses of the Russian army there are about 17 million AK-74 and AK-74-type automata, and all of them are potential carriers of the long-term Obves.
It is obvious that the revision of all available machines does not make sense, and could also lead to unnecessary spending. However, a certain number of weapons will still have to be upgraded. Given the quantitative and qualitative indicators of the army, as well as the expected events of the foreseeable future, it can be assumed that the army will receive at least several hundred thousand sets of KM-AK. It is advisable to update all the machines that are in active operation, as well as parts of the weapon in storage. The vast majority of AK-74 while maintaining the original configuration, having some chance to upgrade in the future.
The first public demonstration of the results of OCD “Obves” by the authorship of the Kalashnikov concern took place almost three years ago. In the summer of 2015, the company's management spoke about the imminent delivery of new products to the army. As far as we know, the armed forces did receive a certain number of KM-AK kits, however, the full-scale modernization of existing weapons has not yet begun. However, the upgraded weapons have already passed a significant part of the necessary tests.
In November last year, some information was published about the tests of combat equipment “Warrior”, in the framework of which the AK-74M assault rifles were also controlled and equipped with the “Kit” kit. It was found that the modernized automaton exceeds the basic product in a number of parameters. For example, a gain of accuracy was obtained in 1,3 times. At the same time, the maintenance of weapons became more complicated. Incomplete disassembly of the machine with KM-AK now occupied an average of 47,5 with a standard 12,1 with. The build after that took 84 with the required 18,6 with.
The objective of the “Body Kit” program and the KM-AK project was to create a set of equipment capable of increasing the basic characteristics of an existing machine gun without the need to rework it. In fact, it was necessary to apply a modular approach: the machine itself turned into a fire module, which was required to be supplemented with “stationary” devices with the ability to install removable and replaceable ones. Due to this, it would be possible to improve the ergonomics of the weapon, as well as increase the potential of its sighting devices.
It should be noted that the current situation in the arms market to some extent facilitated the work of the authors of the KM-AK project. The Kalashnikov assault rifle is one of the most popular platforms, and a long time ago a variety of additional devices and accessories of various kinds appeared on the market. Thus, the participants of the “Obves” program could do without lengthy and complex research on finding basic solutions, and take into account someone else’s experience. The results obtained directly indicate that the kit was created, at least, with an eye on foreign developments.
At the same time, the Kalashnikov concern had obvious advantages over other developers and manufacturers of accessories. Being the creator of the upgraded machine and having access to the original design documentation, the company could avoid a lot of problems that could delay the development process.
To expand the capabilities of the weapon, the Obves project involves the use of new forearm and receiver covers. In front of the receiver, the shank is made of glass-filled polyamide, equipped with four standard Picatinny rail. Thanks to this, any compatible equipment can be mounted on the machine, such as flashlights, laser designators, etc. The metal cover of the receiver was reinforced and also received an integrated bar. Due to this, the standard open sight can be supplemented by any other system that meets the requirements of the customer.
New handguard can also be attributed to the means of improving ergonomics. Together with him, such tasks are solved by an updated pistol grip of the “anatomical” shape. The standard unregulated butt gave way to a folding telescopic product. Now the fighter can adjust the length of the butt for maximum convenience. Provides for the use of a new belt. It is proposed to use the improved flag of the fuse-translator of fire. A transverse protrusion appears in the middle of the flag, facilitating its movement.
The processing of the main parts and assemblies of the machine is not envisaged, however, in the KM-AK project there are some means to improve the technical and combat characteristics. So, instead of the standard muzzle brake compensator AK-74, it is now proposed to use a new device with enhanced characteristics. It is curious that at the parade 2015 of the year, at later exhibitions and in promotional materials appear machines with different DTC. This indicated both the development of the project and the emergence of new designs, and the possibility of using different products with different characteristics.
It is possible to install a silent firing device or a muzzle device for firing blank cartridges on the barrel. It was also reported that one of the new brake compensators can also be used as a starting device for rifle grenades of foreign production.
To date, the Obves kits from the Kalashnikov concern in limited quantities have been supplied only to the armed forces of Russia, where they are now undergoing comprehensive tests. It is likely that a contract will soon appear for the full-scale mass production of new devices for the modernization of existing weapons. But the timing of the appearance, the volume and cost of such a contract remain unknown.
For a long time there was a question about the possibility of supplying KM-AK kits to foreign countries. Kalashnikov assault rifles of various models and modifications are in service with many armies in the world, and some of them may be interested in the means of simple and fast modernization of such weapons. During the recent exhibitions, foreign military were able to get acquainted with the results of the ROC "Kit" and draw some conclusions. Also, this development has attracted the attention of foreign public. However, so far such interest has not led to real results. Information about the desire of a country to buy Russian modernization kits have not yet appeared.
In the foreseeable future, the new army will receive new weapons, but they will not be able to immediately take the title of the main weapon from the existing AK-74. To reduce the negative effects of such re-equipment and increase the combat capability of the units, a decision was made several years ago to modernize existing products. To date, a set of new equipment that improves the serial AK-74, has passed a number of basic steps and got to the tests in the army. The exact plans of the military department regarding this development are still unknown, but there is reason for optimistic forecasts.
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