We had already covered the news last winter, following official declarations and Tweets by the Vice-Prime Minister of Russia, Dimitri Rogozin; silence had fallen upon the matter since then, though, and that led many western observers to think that certain economic and political interests might have killed the project, dooming several Russian arms makers to certain bankrupticy given the dire economic straits some of them are into. And yet, this August 15th, an official press release saluted the birth of a new enterprise, the Kalashnikov Concern, under the auspices of ROSTEC, a Russian State-owned enterprise established in 2007 to promote the development, production and export of high-tech industrial products for civil and military purposes. The ROSTEC umbrella encompasses 663 entities headquartered all throughout the Russian Federation, selling their products to over 70 different Countries worldwide with a net income of 45.6 billion Rubles in 2011.
The new "Kalashnikov Concern" will initially merge the legendary IZHMASH factory with the well-known MOLOT company headquartered in the town of Vyatskiye Polyany and the "NITI-PROGRESS" R&D Technical Institute; many other companies may join the "Kalashnikov Concern" umbrella in the near future, including the world-famous FGUP "Baikal", which had been slated to become part of the Concern since the very beginning.
All the enterprises that will merge in the "Kalashnikov Concern" have a strong background in military and civilian-grade arms, ammunition and technology manufacturing, dated back to the most glorious years of the Soviet Union as a world superpower or − and that's the case of the IZHMASH company − even back to the 19th Century. Some of them, anyway, heavily suffered the end of the Cold War and the globalization of the Russian market: so to speak, IZHMASH itself has now been for years under bankruptcy administration, being struggling with a market share that shrinks day by day as competitors from central Europe and Asia can offer to civilian shooters, police officers and military operators worldwide the very same IZHMASH's signature product − the AKM rifle − at a lower price albeit retaining a very high quality level, while many Countries that previously enjoyed tight political connections with Russia are now procuring last-generation military technologies from the United States or from western European countries. First moves to save IZHMASH by founding a Russian arms colossus that could get it to be competitive again on the global market were started a couple of years ago by retired General Mikhail Timofe'evič Kalashnikov himself: the Hero of the Soviet Union, veteran of the Great Patriotic War who gave birth to many of the guns that bear his name right at the IZHMASH plant, had been campaigning for this quite energically, and granted the Russian government with the rights to use his surname for the new company free of charge.
According to the official ROSTEC press release, the Russian government expects the "Kalashnikov Concern" to be instrumental in saving money, optimiziong logistic costs and others such as transport, production of tools, equipment and accessories. As of today, the registration of the new company and all associated brands, logos and other commercial and legal-related elements thereof is now complete, while some months ago the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service of the Russian Federation had allowed the IZHMASH Scientific and Production Coorporation to acquire the rights to perform the functions of the executive body of the “Izhevsk Mechanical Plant”. This gave IZHMASH the authority to work on foundation of the “Kalashnikov Concern” concern as the sole executive body of “Izhevsk Mechanical Plant”. Definitely, this move all falls in line with their marketing strategy of putting a very well recognized name behind all of their products for international recognition to increase exports.
The "Kalashnikov Concern" will manufacture small arms and light weapons for civilian, Police and military purposes, ammunition thereof, optical sights and even UAVs. A double official presentation and opening ceremony for the activities of the “Kalshnikov Concern” will be held in Izhevsk on September 19 and in Moscow on September 21. Top political, military and business figures from Russia are slated to attend; in the meanwhile, the "Kalashnikov Concern" started a massive marketing campaign which will include the sale of merchandising of all sorts under its brand.