Venezuela plant to make 50 million Kalashnikov rounds annually

An ammunition plant being built by Russia in Venezuela will have the capacity to produce over 50 million rounds for Kalashnikov assault rifles per year, a Russian defense industry official said on Tuesday.

The Urals-based Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (IMP) supplied 100,000 AK-103 assault rifles to Venezuela, and signed a new contract in 2007 licensing production of Kalashnikov rifles in the Latin American country.

Under the contract, Russia is building an assembly line for AK-103 assault rifles and an ammunition plant to produce 7.62-mm ammunition for the rifle.

“The ammunition plant will be capable of producing over 50 million rounds annually,” said Nikolai Maslyaev, general director of the Izhevsk-based design bureau for automated assembly lines.

The ammunition plant, which is being constructed near the Kalashnikov rifle assembly plant in Venezuela’s Aragua State, is expected to be ready for production by the end of 2010.

Oil-rich Venezuela is a major purchaser of Russian weapons and hardware. Since 2005, Venezuela has bought $4-billion worth of Russian weapons, including warplanes, helicopters, and Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in April after an official visit to Venezuela that the Latin American country could sign more than $5-billion worth of new contracts for Russian arms and military equipment in the near future.

IZHEVSK (Urals), May 25 (RIA Novosti)