In the face of an ongoing conflict with Russia the nation of Ukraine announced that it’s replacing its aging stockpiles of AK-47’s with a new rifle, the M4-WAC47. The fact that the nation has chosen to go away from the Kalashnikov pattern rifles all together and adopt a variant of our very own M4 carbine is a shock to many. The odd part of this who equation is that the Ukraine has decided to keep the 7.62×39 mm rifle cartridge for their new rifles, for how long no one really knows.
The interesting part of this that will cause some issues is the fact that in the last few years the nations of Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland have all signed letters of agreement to protect each other in the event the Russian Bear decides it wants to regain some more of its old territories. Poland and Lithuania are members of NATO which means that both of those countries use rifles chambered in 5.56 x 45 mm, not in 7.62 x 39 mm like the newly proposed Ukrainian rifles. This might not sound like a huge deal to outsiders but stop and consider the added logistical issues with a multinational military unit that in the event of a conflict will be fighting a very organized and well supplied invading force. Combining three nations forces into one fighting force is hard enough, even without this issue.
There are rumors that the new AR-15 based rifles have been sent in small numbers to the Donbass region for real world testing against invading forces that have entrenched in the region for quite some time. The weapons are scheduled to be build by a company that is based in the United States, Aeroscraft. This is interesting given the announcement in the not so distant past that President Donald Trump had authorized the sale of large numbers of Barrett M107A1 rifles as well as shipments of the Raytheon build Javelin Anti-Armor Weapon Systems to the nation, who has been in a conflict with Russian for the past few years.
The Ukraine seems to have it’s eye on it’s future within NATO, when it began the process of searching for a new rifle to equip it’s military. The government has said from the beginning that the interest in the M4 patterned rifles is to allow the nation to transition more gradually into the 5.56 x45 mm cartridge. The rifles like most other M4 rifles, will feature a removable upper receiver that will let allow a 5.56 x45 mm barrel assembly to be attached in under 20 seconds and use what is known in NATO as the STANAG, essentially a standard 30 round AR-15 magazine.
According to Aeroscraft CEO Igor Pasternak, the rifles will have many of the same features as the M4 carbines that other NATO nations also use. The rifle which is set to use a 16″ barrel will also have a full rail system and allow users to have red dot style optics mounted to it as well as several grenade launching attachments. When interviewed on January 17th, 2018 in Kyiv, Ukraine Igor Pasternak said that “when you see a Ukrainian soldier with a NATO weapon in his hand, it is a strong political message to Russia.” That sends a very strong message to Russian leadership in and around the disputed area of the Crimean Peninsula.
The rumors we are hearing is that the final decision on the new rifles will be finalized in the Spring of 2018. With a projected cost of $700 in U.S. Dollars ( 19,779.60 Ukrainian Hryvnia) per rifle the guns are quick to make, offer modularity and won’t crush the defense budget of the nation of Ukraine. A possible wrinkle in the plans to ditch the Soviet Era Kalashnikov rifles is the issue of training the current Ukrainian Army forces in the proper manual of arms and maintenance for the new rifles. As most of can already guess, the Kalashnikov pattern rifles are what many generations of Ukrainians are comfortable using. Change can be an ugly thing and the last thing a country needs that is the middle of fighting for it’s very existence is problems with improperly trained soldiers.
Thoughts and Ideas ?
We want to know what our readers thoughts are on the unfolding situation of the switch. The politics of NATO and selecting a nations weapons systems is problematic enough in peacetime, let alone during a conflict. Do you think that Ukraine can pull off the transfer from AK’s to AR’s or will the Polish and Lithuanians end up bailing them out with Beryl’s and other weapons in the name of simplicity and standardization ? Both the countries of Lithuania and Poland have pledged to help with monetary funds and weapons in the past, but when will it all end ? You can only prop up a neighbor country so much before it has to stand on it’s own, or is the Russian threat big enough that they will continue to help Ukraine out ? It posses a very interesting dilemma, I’m glad I’m not a politician in one of those countries, especially when people start asking the thought questions about defense of the homeland.