The history of the new generation of Kalashnikov assault rifles is quite complicated and often very scandalous. In 2013, Russian Ministry of Defense refused to finance the R&D for AK-12, over the years there were a lot of sudden and controversial design changes, and some experts remain skeptical about design features of the final version of the rifle, presented in 2016.
According to multiple Russian sources, AK-12 along with its 7.62×39 version, AK-15, was recommended for adoption into the Russian armed forces and will begin its service life in 2019. So far, there has been no information about Russian forces using those weapons except for a very small batch of rifles presumably issued for field trials to the Russian National Guard. It was safe to assume that full-scale production will begin in 2019.
Until ten days ago at least 800 AK12s were spotted in the hands of Qatari soldiers at the annual National Day Parade.
This sighting raises a bunch of questions. First, how Qatar managed to buy a large number of Russian weapons before the Russian Ministry of Defence managed to procure them? Generally, new Russian weapons are first procured by the Russian Army and LE agencies and only then exported.
The second question is: why Qatar chose a weapon chambered in 5.45×39 since this round is clearly not in their supply chain? AK-15, chambered in 7.62×39, seems to be a much more logical choice in this situation since the previous generation of the AK-47 rifle and 7.62×39 ammunition is already used in the Qatar army. Even at the parade, at least two units were armed with AK-47s of the unknown origin.
The third question is – why some (or maybe all) AK-12 are completely missing a rear sight that should be located on the dust cover? All close-up pictures show weapons without any rear sights or optical sights.
Generally, small arms of the Qatar army showcased at the parade leave a lot of questions. It looks like Qatar is using AK12s, M4s, AK47s, M16s, G3s, MP5s, and some chrome plated SKS and FN FAL rifles, all at the same time.
It is certainly a very interesting collection of firearms, but hardly ideal for Armed Forces that should strive to streamline the logistics, both with small arms and ammunition. But maybe I am just too harsh – eight different weapon systems and five different calibers – what can go wrong?