Russia’s Top Performing Defence Companies

By Joseph Roukoz


Kalashnikov is internationally recognised as the largest Russian manufacturing company that produces assault and sniper rifles, guided artillery projectiles and a wide range of precision weapons. For more than 60 years until now, military firearms manufactured under Kalashnikov brand proved to be paragons of reliability and simplicity.

The Concern is the flagship of the Russian small arms manufacturing sector, producing about 95 percent of all small arms in Russia and supplying to more than 27 countries around the world.

The legendary Kalashnikov assault rifle.
The legendary Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Today the company produces the fourth generation of the so-called “hundred series” of Kalashnikov assault rifles, such as the АК-101, АК-102, АК-103, АК-104, and the АК-105. The fifth generation Kalashnikov the АК-12 assault rifle is about to pass the state trials.

The Concern equips the Russian Special Forces with sniper rifles, such as the SVD, SVDS, SVDM, SV-98, SV-99, and law enforcement agencies with “Vityaz-SN” submachine guns, 18.5 KS-K shotguns, and other gun models.

The Kalashnikov group is also developing new business lines that include remote weapon stations (RWS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and multi-purpose boats.

One of the most promising projects is a new land and water-based remote weapon station (MBDU). The system has a two-axis gyro-stabilizing device and an automatic target tracking system that can track 10 static and one mobile target simultaneously. The station is equipped with armored protection against 7.62 x 54R mm armor-piercing bullets. The MBDU can also be fitted with one of four available weapons: 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine guns; 30 mm AG-17; or new 40 mm grenade launchers.

One of the Concern’s group companies, the Rybinsk Shipyard, plans to develop and manufacture multi-functional boats designed to be used by specialized agencies involved with counter-piracy and counter-terrorism, transportation of assault combat groups to shore, fire support, and search and rescue (SAR) operations.

The company plans to develop projects producing UAVs in Russia. Having taken over ZALA Aero, it is planning to develop and manufacture a range of fixed-wing and rotary-wing UAVs, and mobile ground control stations.

The Concern has recently been in advanced discussions with Indian companies to manufacture certain weapons there and sharing technology with local partners.


Uralvagonzavod is a Russian machine building company located in Nizhny Tagil. It is one of the largest scientific and industrial complexes in Russia and the largest main battle tank (MBT) manufacturer in the world. Having built the legendary T-34 MBT during World War Two, it now produces the new generation of Russian tanks – the T-90S MBT with reactive armor and optoelectronic system of fire suppression built in combination with combat and technical characteristics that are not only as good as the best tanks produced in other countries, but in many ways surpass them.

The 48-ton T-90S modernised MBT is armed with a 125mm 2A46M-5 gun and a 7.62mm 6P7K machine gun. It has a multichannel gunner’s sight with sighting and thermal channels, laser range finder, and built-in laser control channel.The commander’s sight is combined panoramic with television and thermal channels and laser range finder.

A T-90 main battle tank.
A T-90 main battle tank.

Powered by an 831 KW (1,130 hp) V-92S2F engine with automatic gear shifter and steering wheel control The tanks electronic digital ballistic computer has a set of weather and topographical sending units and barrel position monitor.

The T-90S’s armour protection comprises modular ERA and ERA panels mounted on rear and side projections and anti-fragmentation panels made of aramid fabric. It is fitted with a PKUZ-1A NBC protection system.

The T-90S has been exported to numerous countries including Algeria, Azerbijan and Syria. Its biggest customer is India which has procured more than 1,000 T-90S MBTs many of which have been assembled by India’s Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) at Avadi.

In July 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the area of technical cooperation under the Make in India Program and promotion of the Uralvagonzavod products to India was signed by Denis Manturov, Russian Minister of Trade and Industry, and Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry of the Republic of India. The aim of the MoU is to further development and strengthening of co-operation in industry between the two countries. Uralvagonzavod is a traditional supplier of products to India within the military and technical co-operation and the agreement envisions creating a joint product, namely, a self-propelled artillery system (SPAS), at the facilities of the Indian company. Under our Make in India Program, Uralvagonzavod plans to gradually transfer documentation for co-production of the system. Assembling would be just the first stage of cooperation in creating the SPAS, the production of which is now taking place at the Uraltransmash Division of the Uralvagonzavod Corporation.

Uralvagonzavod also produces a range of fire support combat vehicles based on the BMPT, and armoured recovery and deminer vehicles based on the T-90.

Tactical Missiles Corporation:

According to the “Russian export 200” rating by the Expert media holding, Tactical Missiles Corporation is among hundred largest Russian exporters. The Corporation was ranked 55th, having exported missiles worth a total of $634 million in 2015.

The Corporation has manufactured state-of-the-art high-speed airborne guided missiles and anti-ship missiles as well as surface-to-air missiles for air-defense systems for more than 60 years.

Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-34 armed with underwing R-73 and R-27 air-to-air missiles.
Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-34 armed with underwing R-73 and R-27 air-to-air missiles.

Its latest products include the Kh-31P anti-radar missile and anti-ship Kh-31A missile and the Kh-35E anti-ship guided missile for different launch platforms including air, ship and coastal batteries. The group’s subsidiary “Vympel” manufactures air-to-air guided missiles comprising the small R-73E for a close-in dogfight; RVV-AE, R-27R1, R-27T1 and R-27P medium range guided missiles and the R-33E long-range guided missile. The enterprise also manufactures guided air-to-surface missiles type and guided missiles for terrestrial and marine air-defense systems and target missiles. “Vympel” manufactures passive jamming systems for aircraft and helicopters and special support equipment, such as rail and ejection launchers, beam and cluster holders, manufactured for suspension, transportation and forced release almost of all types of air-launched weapons.

A Russian Army TOS multiple rocket launcher.
A Russian Army TOS multiple rocket launcher.

The group manufactures a range of potent airborne anti-ship missiles including the Kh-31, Kh-35 and Kh-59, and the APR-3E anti-submarine missile along with the Kh-58E anti-radar missile.

Many of the Corporation’s weapons are carried by the Russian Air Force’s latest supersonic tactical attack aircraft, the Sukhoi Su-34 which have deployed to Syria for combat operations against ISIL.