* Kalashnikov plans to start manufacturing AK-203s in India in 2020
* Weapons maker seduces new audience with high-tech shotgun
* Kalashnikov was hit by US and European sanctions in 2014
By Andrey Ostroukh and Gleb Stolyarov
MOSCOW, Feb. 18 (Reuters) – Russian arms maker Kalashnikov plans to start manufacturing its AK-203 assault rifle in India this year and wants to attract a wider audience with a high-tech shotgun, said the director general Dmitry Tarasov.
Named after the designer of the AK-47 assault rifle that has been used for decades in wars around the world, Kalashnikov sought new business and new markets after being hit by US and EU sanctions on the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.
It aims for a 60% increase in annual revenue to more than 50 billion rubles ($ 675.33 million) by 2025, Tarasov told Reuters in an interview.
Equipped with a built-in computer, the Ultima shotgun provides WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and can sync with smartphones. It is intended to appeal to young customers such as gadget enthusiasts.
India is also at the heart of Kalashnikov’s growth plans, where it aims to produce 670,000 AK-203 rifles over the next decade in conjunction with the Indian Ministry of Defense.
“We hope to start production of AK-203 rifles in our joint venture in India this year. I think this is a long term trend so more examples will follow soon, ”he said.
Kalashnikov started licensed production of the AK-130 assault rifle in Armenia last year and Tarasov, 37, has said he wants to deepen cooperation with Latin America, where it has well-established relations with Venezuela. know that there is an active demand in this market, ”he said, but declined to provide further details.
HIGH TECHNOLOGY RIFLE
Kalashnikov sells weapons to 27 countries and produces 95% of Russia’s small arms, but US sanctions imposed in 2014 banned US entities from doing business with Kalashnikov.
The AK-203 is an advanced version of the AK-47 invented by Soviet soldier Mikhail Kalashnikov after being wounded in World War II.
Ultima is a completely new venture for the company in which state-owned Rostec conglomerate holds a 25% stake plus one share. Alan Lushnikov, former deputy transport minister, owns a 75% stake minus one share through a company called TKH-Invest. Ultima, we want to attract new customers who are usually not our target audience, “Tarasov said.” We target customers who want to get a little bit of drive or adrenaline. Entering a semi-game niche might be an option. “
Unmanned aerial vehicles, some of which take off like a helicopter and fly like a glider with video cameras, are also “a very important activity,” he said.
Kalashnikov also sees the market for torches, knives and other branded products as promising.
($ 1 = 74.0380 rubles) (Written by Andrey Ostroukh, edited by Andrew Osborn and Timothy Heritage)