Saudi Arabia expects to manufacture Kalashnikov rifles with Russian support

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The world’s most famous Kalashnikov assault rifle is to be manufactured in Saudi Arabia under a series of initial defense deals the kingdom has signed with Russia.

Rosoboronexport said it has entered into a preliminary licensing agreement that could lead to the production of the popular Russian-origin Kalashnikov in the kingdom.

A statement said that the agreement includes “the production of Kalashnikov AK-103 assault rifles and cartridges for various purposes.”

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two sides could also include Russia supplying Saudi Arabia with Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems, rocket launchers, and automatic grenade launchers.

The initial deal also includes transfer of knowledge in the defense field to Saudi Arabia. The kingdom has set a goal of spending half of its large defense budget within the country.

This plan now includes “localizing” the AK-103 assault rifle and its ammunition, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The Kalashnikov assault rifle is known for its widespread use in the wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan. It is reported that there are at least 100 million AK-47s in circulation.

The deal comes as the Russian rifle maker seeks to attract private investment.

Kalashnikov Wants To increase arms production by up to 80 percent this year and create 1,700 jobs in the process.

Mikhail Kalashnikov developed the AK-47 model after World War II, and it was inspired by complaints he heard from Russian soldiers about their rifles while recovering from a 1942 wound.

It has been the standard military rifle in Russia since 1949.

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