KYIV — A trademark weapon of the Cold War is coming to Ukraine, and it isn’t the AK-47.
Aeroscraft, a US-based defense contractor, and Ukroboronprom, Ukraine’s state-run weapons industry, plan to produce a variant of the iconic M16 carbine. This will bring the country closer to NATO standards.
The plan involves moving from an M16 variant that fires the 7.62 ammunition commonly found in former Soviet nations in Central and Eastern Europe. Future variants produced will fire NATO-standard 5.56-caliber rounds.
Founded by Igor Pasternak when he moved from Ukraine to the U.S. in 1994, California-based Aeroscraft specializes in lighter-than-air aircraft. Prior to its agreement with Ukroboronprom to manufacture M16s, Aeroscraft marketed border surveillance systems to Ukraine’s military for its war-torn east.
The move will make Ukraine’s military more interoperable with NATO forces. It tracks President Petro Poroshenko’s announcement last September that joining NATO is a “strategic priority” for Ukraine. Dropping the AK-model rifles, a legacy of Soviet rule in Ukraine, represents yet another break with Moscow.
Nearly eight million M16 rifles of various types have been produced. Of them nearly 90% are still in service. Over 100 million AK-type rifles have been produced. An estimated seventy-five million of the AK rifles are AK-47s.
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Photo: Ukroboronprom show some of its hardware at a display at the Rada last October (Credit: UNIAN: Andrey Krymsky)
Photo: Ukraine’s transition to a new combat rifle will bring it closer to NATO standards. (credit:Ukroboronprom)
Posted Jan. 19, 2017