2008: Venezuela has obtained a license
to produce the AK-103 assault rifle. Manufacturing equipment has been shipped,
and production of Venezuelan made AK-103s is expected to begin next year. Three
years ago, Venezuela bought 100,000 of these assault rifles. The AK-103 is the
most recent model of the original AK-47.
hasn't manufactured the AK-47 (or its upgraded version, the AKM), for many
years. Instead, Russia now makes the AK-74, a weapon similar to the American
M-16 (firing a slightly smaller 5.45mm bullet), and the AK-101 (which fires the
U.S. 5.56mm round) and the AK-103 (which fires the same 7.62mm bullet of the
old AK-47). The AK-103 is essentially a very up-to-date design of the old
AK-47. Normally, the AK-103 sells for about $800 each (including cleaning
supplies, magazines, spare parts and the like.) But many of the AK-103 sold to
Venezuela from Russia are being billed at $1200 each, the additional $400 going
into the pockets of Venezuelan politicians who got behind the weapons purchase
and distribution (to friends of the current Venezuelan government) of the
weapons. New weapons, old traditions. Venezuela could have bought newly
manufactured (but not by Russia) AK-47s for $400. But this purchase was not so
much about weapons, as it was about politics.
eager to encourage licensed production of the AK series of rifles. It is
believed that over 100 million AKs (most the AK-47 and AKM models) have been
produced so far. Most of these AKs were unlicensed models built by other
communist countries. Currently, only about ten percent of the million AK type
rifles built each year are manufactured legally. The Venezuelan deal is part of
an attempt to change that.