Kalashnikov CEO
Dmitry Valerievich Tarasov, CEO of Kalashnikov group says company is diversifying its portfolio to non military products. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The Kalashnikov group of companies, the largest Russian arms manufacturer globally known for its AK-47 rifles with a solid military-oriented customer base, are introducing more civilian products and services to attract new customers, the top executive told Emirates News Agency (WAM).

Apart from sophisticated weapons for the military, the company's civilian products such as high-tech pistols intend to attract new young customers, and a service of expert teams operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will cater to the oil and gas industry, banking and city administrations across the globe, said Dmitry Valerievich Tarasov, CEO of the group.

He is in Abu Dhabi to attend the International Defence Exhibition and the Naval Defence Exhibition (IDEX and NAVDEX) 2021, which begun Sunday and will continue until Thursday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

"Yes, there are military customers for our UAVs, but we offer a very wide range of services for the oil and gas industry," Tarasov said.

He explained that companies use the service mainly for mapping the damaged pipelines that need repair and UAVs do the job without the direct control of an operator, which is a cost-effective solution.

"Another interesting point is that you don't have to buy UAVs. We can also provide you the service and we have over 70 teams that can be hired to do all the work," the CEO said.

He added that the use of UAVs can potentially kill some of the specialised jobs in the oil and gas industry. "We don't have clients at the moment in the Arabian Gulf, but we're going to offer the service here."

Banks utilise this service for surveillance of properties they have taken as collateral against loans as UAVs can periodically monitor and report the status of such assets, Tarasov said.

City administrations can use the UAV service for zoning and regular surveillance to ensure that no illegal constructions are carried out in particular zones, he explained.

"This particular field will be expanding both for the civilian and military market," the CEO pointed out, clarifying that "It won't be our primary service product we offer."

Therefore, the company is not making any presentation about this service at the IDEX and NAVDEX because "We have to keep in mind it's more of a military exhibition, so obviously the customers are looking for a military set of things."

Among the Kalashnikov's products at the exhibition is a handgun called PLK – compact Lebedev pistol chambered for 9x19 round.

"It will not be our main product, but we have to understand that this particular market [targeting tech-savvy youth and plainclothes law enforcement] is growing very fast. A product like that will ultimately allow us to bring new customers," he said.

Another product is modernised air defence rocket Strela 9M333, used in surface-to-air missile system Strela-10M, which is being mass-produced for the Russian Ministry of Defence.

The world debut of AK-19 assault rifle will also take place at the event. AK-19 is chambered for 5.56x45 round, one of the most popular rifle rounds in the world, which is currently used by NATO countries.

The group recently announced that it aims to produce 670,000 AK-203 rifles in the next decade together with the Indian defence ministry.

Asked about any such joint ventures with any Middle Eastern countries or defence companies, the CEO said the talks are going on with many countries for similar tie-ups. "We cannot reveal such commercial secrets in public. Sometimes we may be in a position to announce something at the IDEX."