According to the Russian News Agency TASS (via Army Recognition), the Pakistan Army is planning to order a large number of Kalashnikov AK-103 assault rifles from Russia.
The information was given to TASS by a Pakistan Ministry of Defence (MoD) official at Eurosatory 2016, a major defence exhibition that took place last week in Paris.
According to the MoD source who spoke to TASS, the AK-103s are being bought because “they can be used in the country’s hot weather conditions.”
The source also told TASS that the Pakistani armed forces intend to acquire up to a million new rifles for the purpose of fully re-equipping the country’s infantry. However, the source did not confirm the extent to which the AK-103 will service this need, thus leaving the room for another rifle to be procured.
Comment and Analysis
The Pakistan Army semi-officially disclosed its program to acquire a new widely issued rifle in March. At the time, the AK-103 was among a group of competitors which had included FN Herstal (SCAR H), Česká Zbrojovka (CZ-806 BREN 2), Zastava (M77), and Beretta (ARX-200).
Although an older design (in comparison to its competitors), the AK-103 offers marked improvements over the Type 56, such as incorporating a picatinny rail in the design, thus enabling it to be ready for sights and other rifle add-ons. Moreover, the transition period to have Army personnel transitioned to the AK-103 (from Type 56) should be minimal, thus making the rifle’s entry into a combat environment relatively prompt.
Besides the reported selection of the AK-103, the status of the other entrants has not been disclosed via official channels. Looking at the statements given to TASS by the Pakistani MoD official, it is possible that another rifle will be chosen, especially if the AK-103 is to be a replacement for the Type 56, which is what Pakistan Army infantry mostly use in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
In this case, a replacement for the Heckler & Koch (HK) G3 battle rifle would emerge in the form of a 7.62x51mm NATO calibre rifle. In terms of the group from March, this could include the Zastava M77, Beretta ARX-200 and FN SCAR H, but there is nothing to preclude the Army to include other competitors, such as the HK-417 and MKEK MPT-76. In fact, one could argue that these rifles ought to stand a higher chance given that they are derived (or at least draw a relatively high proportion of parts) from the widely adopted AR-15 platform.
The AK103 is a solid platform, but I’d need rails for mounting accessories and an adjustable stock.
It’s much too early to say, but I wonder if (for the G-3) they’re actually looking at an AR-15-derived platform. Performance, quality and dependability will be key, but Turkey’s MKEK has managed reasonably well to churn out an affordable AR-15 based 7.62 NATO battle rifle. I don’t think there is a shortage of consultants who know how to develop around the AR-15, and given the SSG’s experience – and persistent usage – with the rifle, an AR-15 derivative should be an expected route (in the end).
Two things to consider:
1) The G3s primary purpose is very limited now. In fact, long battle rifles are going to be less and less relevant as time goes on, and urbanization increases. Even in FATA, there is a lot of CQB/Urban warfare that the G3 is not suited for. At the same time, you still need larger calibers for desert/mountain terrains where engaging targets over longer ranges is required. But would you equip an entire squad with G3s or just the Marksmen? 7.62×51 NATO is basically only used by DMRs and LMGs now in Western armies, while the 5.56 NATO is the standard rifle cartridge. Whether or not 5.56 is a good caliber, is debatable (it’s not even allowed for hunting deer in some places because it’s so weak.) A medic once told me he has treated people with multiple 5.56 hits who survived. The 5.56 is infamous for passing right through people who don’t even notice they got hit when their high on adrenaline in battle. The Russian 7.32×39 is definitely a more powerful cartridge, and I’m glad that the Pak Army is going with it over the 5.56. But this also makes one wonder, why do we need so many G3 battle rifles? Why not just keep the 7.62 NATO cartridge for DMRs and LMGs for support roles? It’s also not a good caliber for CQB because of the recoil, it kicks a lot. Smaller calibers are more conducive for placing quick accurate shots, which is what you need in CQB.
2) When speaking of ARs, one thing MUST be considered: Piston vs non-Piston. This is a question of reliability and is very important. I’d always pick a piston-AR (like the 416/417) over the regular ARs. Piston ARs have the reliability of the AK, and the ergonomics and accessory options of the AR, so it’s a win-win. The best piston AR-type replacement for the G3 then is the HK417. If we’re not going for the 417, then I would stay away from the ARs.
I disagree with your second point. You may think piston AR-15s are amazing and have the reliability of an AK-47. I have seen and experienced things differently. I have had several friends who bought piston driven AR-15s and they ALL had serious problems when it came to the type of ammunition they put through the rifle. My non-piston AR-15 would shoot anything (steel coated, brass, military surplus, etc.) Their piston driven AR-15s would routinely jam up when shooting lower quality ammunition. They had to send it back and forth to a gunsmith and adjustments needed to be made before it was fully functional. Even then, they are not confident their rifles will fire when they need it the most, so it’s not even their primary defense weapon!
Furthermore, I’ve taken part in a number of 3 gun competitions and I have seen very few competitors use piston driven AR-15s. The US military has also shown very little interest in a piston driven version of the M4. I haven’t had any significant issues with the non-piston AR-15 platform and I’ve used this rifle in terrible conditions.
And before people claim I’m biased….I also run a highly modernized AK-47. It has been outfitted with parts from Magpul, Midwest Industries, Primary Arms optic, etc.
Either an AR-15 or AK-47 variant would serve the PA well.
I think your point mostly relates to the low quality piston ARs being made in the US. There has been an explosion in the market recently and there’s so many manufacturers making them now that some are bound to be total crap. I’m curious which ones you’re referring to specifically? (So I can stay the hell away from those manufacturers lol.)
But as for well made piston ARs, like the HK416, which is basically the new standard carbine for Seal 6 and Delta (not to mention other tier one units around the world, like the GIGN) it’s is a good indication of the piston ARs reliability over the DI ARs. The only reason the US hasnt equipped their entire infantry with the 416 is due to cost, not because it isn’t reliable. After all, I don’t think anyone (not even the most hardcore AR fan) can deny the inherent reliability advantage of pistons over DI. The AK is after all a piston platform, and everyone admits it’s more reliable than the M4.
I have the HK MR223 which I run with cheap Norinco (brass) and MFS (steel cased) ammo through it so far without any issues. With that said, I probably would’ve preferred a modernized AK variant myself, which would’ve been way cheaper, but all AK derivatives are banned in Canada.
Why are AK derivatives banned in Canada? Just curious.
There’s no rational explanation for it. Someone somewhere decided in some government meeting that AKs are evil and ARs aren’t, case closed lol.
I read on military-today.com that AK103 has been supplied to Pakistan (among other countries), so do we have these in limited numbers already?
Some must have been sent during the evaluation stage, but honestly, there isn’t much publicly available info on this issue. The tender only came to public knowledge via ISPR recording a briefing, and then POF’s head saying that a new rifle was in the pipeline.
I personally think it will be a combination of two. Its either AK-103 & Beretta ARX-200/SCAR-H.
Again I will say Ak-103 for pakistan which was introduced a decade earlier…..& the very latest in kalashnikov series AK-12 being offered to Indians. why this difference?
It looks very similar to ak 47,
should have gone for something more fancy, in modern rifle design, the shoulder support rifle butt is shortened, and the chamber closer thus allowing for faster rotation and movement. Turn around time in such a long rifle would at least be about 20% more then the more advance rifles.
Today’s killing of amjad Sabri and yesterday’s abduction means that the war has begun in earnest againstCPEC what we need to do is arm the population with hand guns then it will be survival of the fittest the army being a holy cow is not plausible now
Some article on T14 armata and heavy infantry vehicle T-15 armata and what Pakistani defense can acquire from it also comparison with western armor ?
Assalam o Alaikum
As for as my personal opinion is concerned, i proposed that instead on relying and considering one platform, the decision maker must have to select two standard assault rifle and in My opinion 1: MKEK MPT-76 rifle with fitted EOS AVCI 1-4x sigh fitted 2: FN Herstal (SCAR H)