Sponsored by Control Solutions LLC.
15 Feb 18. Russia’s Kalashnikov becomes majority private-owned. Private investors have for the first time gained a majority share of Russia’s Kalashnikov arms manufacturer, producer of the AK-47 assault rifle, Rostec announced on 15 February.
Rostec said in a statement it had reduced its stake from 51 percent to a blocking stake of 25 percent plus one share.
It made the sale to Kalashnikov’s general director Alexei Krivoruchko, who was already a shareholder in the Kalashnikov Concern, and his company.
The deal cost ‘a total of more than $26.39m,’ Rostec said.
This valuation of the company is almost double that of 2014 when Rostec opened the firm up to a public-private partnership.
The move comes as the firm is going through a major transformation, diversifying its production and focusing on exports despite being under US sanctions because of the Ukraine crisis.
Founded in 1807 in Izhevsk – 1,300 kilometres east of Moscow – the former Izhmash factory has undergone a series of upheavals since 2013 when Rostec merged it with another plant and renamed it the umbrella company Kalashnikov after Mikhail Kalashnikov, who invented the AK-47 in 1947.
It became standard issue in the Soviet army and the world’s most popular firearm due to its reliability in different weather conditions and the fact it was produced in a number of countries.
Just before his death at the age of 94 in 2013, Kalashnikov complained to President Vladimir Putin about mismanagement and low wages at the firm.
Since private investors came on board under Krivoruchko, the company has developed new models of guns and changed its image to maximise the returns from its famous name with a clothing line and souvenirs.
In 2017, Russia put up a statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov in Moscow but there were red faces as it emerged the sculptor mistakenly used a drawing of a Nazi weapon on the base. (Source: Shephard)
14 Feb 18. Advancements in Body Armor, Biometrics to Provide Protection. Industry and government agencies are developing ways to keep warfighters better protected with lighter, more flexible body armor and improved sensors to detect health issues before they become a liability in the field.
Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based research facility, announced in January that the Army fully funded an ongoing contract to develop new genetically modified spider silks for use in body armor. The contract — which was originally awarded in 2016 — is now worth over $1m as the Army exercised an optional extension beginning in July 2017, said Jon Rice, Kraig Biocraft’s chief operating officer.
The company has been developing a product known as Dragon Silk, which is 10 times more elastic and has about two-thirds the strength of conventional bulletproof materials, he said. The process uses genetically modified silkworms to create this toughened fiber, he added.
During the base phase of the contract, “we took a very easy production mechanism, which is a silkworm, and then adapted that to produce a stronger, better silk,” Rice said. The company sent initial samples of individual fibers to the Army contracting office, and those samples are currently under review, he said.
Now that the program is fully funded, Kraig has opened up expanded production facilities in Michigan, Rice said. Production previously occurred in South Bend, Indiana. The company is also bringing its research work back in house after previously contracting with the University of Notre Dame, he noted.
“We now have onsite experts working to develop those new materials,” he said. “What that really does is allow us to move beyond what already existed.”
The new fibers could help ease the burden of body armor for troops on the move, Rice said.
“The least comfortable thing is putting a big ceramic plate on your body,” he noted. “I get t