First flight of the NH-90 – The NH-90 takes off on it’s first flight

Since long the Russian Kalashnikov assault rifle has been a household name.

Mikhail Timofeevich, an Israeli weapon designer took the Kalashnikov and created totally different genre of weapon for Israeli special forces.

“There was no weapon more beloved by the soldiers than the AK. It is still in service in some Israeli units, and they are not going to abandon it, arguing that any other machine gun can fail, and the AK does not provide such a “function”, said Moshe Oz while recalling his experience of serving in the Israeli special forces.

Israeli gunsmiths took the Kalashnikov’s basic scheme and reengineered it to improve its reliability even further to create the AK Alfa.

According to Mikhail Ben Oren, the chief designer of the AK Alfa, “Kalashnikov is an excellent thing and does not need to be touched. He has everything in the right place. And the flue system is functioning flawlessly, and the reload handle is in the right place, with perfectly aligned distances.”

Basing themselves on a solid foundation of the Kalashnikov, gunsmiths from CAA gave free rein to their imaginations, trying to incorporate all of the shooters’ wishes onto a single weapon. A lot of work has been invested in improving the ergonomics of the gun and improve its ballistic qualities.

Case in point: while firing the AK Alfa it is of no consequence whether the shooter fires with single shots or fires bursts – he remains practically motionless. The result is seen by the compact “heaps” of hits that remain on the target as a modest circle.

This result was achieved using two technical solutions: the first being that the Alpha’s barrel received a new highly efficient reactive muzzle brake-compensator (DTC) which significantly extinguishes the recoil and toss of the weapon while firing and the second is that the barrel is almost suspended – freed from contacts with the forend.

These technical solutions significantly dampen vibrations from the weapon’s body when the shooter fires. Further, the barrel also has a lower swing amplitude, affecting the stability of shooting and the accuracy of hits. Gun designers had previously used this principle only in sniper rifles.

For the AK Alfa, gun designers made the barrel as “almost suspended”, since a fully suspended barrel will not allow it to interact with the gas engine.

Having improved the accuracy in the design of the gun, Israeli engineers began work on creating a more efficient body.

With many polymer compounds matching the strength of metal, gun designers at CAA started work on a polymer body which will make the weapon much lighter and remove chances of any corrosion.  Plastic also removes the issue of temperature overload. Regardless of whether the shooter is in the North Pole or in the Sahara, the weapon will not burn in his hands or freeze a part of his skin to it.

The next modification was to add Picatinny rail for attaching accessories including scopes. Strips have been attached on all four sides enabling soldier to install bipods, flashlights, tactical grip or any other equipment on them.

Furthermore, along the entire length of the gas outlet tube and receiver, gun designers place a sizeable long rail with 40 grooves allowing the installation of a wide range of accessories including a magnifying attachment, spare front sight and rear sight, a collimator, abd a laser designator.

The Israelis gunsmiths even retouched the “birth trauma” of the Kalashnikov assault rifle – its sidebar for the eye which always stands slightly crooked relative to the barrel.

Having improved this lot, they then focused on ergonomics

The designers of the AK Alfa put a lot of through into the stock, which largely determines the convenience of the shooter vis-à-vis the weapon. This can get terribly complicated since it includes dynamic data including the length of the shooter’s arms, shoulder width, and neck, all of which differ from person to person.

Most modern weapons are “transformers” allowing the shooter to adjust settings allowing him customize the gun to his body type. For example, by pressing a button on the back of the butt, the shooter can unlock the butt allowing it to be customized to the desired length; the “cheek” located on top can also be customized and can rise to one of three positions. The butt can also be folded making it easy transport the gun in confined spaces.

The Israeli gunsmiths updated nearly every aspect of the gun, making its handling more convenient; the handling the carbine has been thought out to the minutest detail. Almost everything is changed and adjusted.

Case in point, butt plate can be installed of the desired shape, even the pads on the fire control can handle different thicknesses for shooters with varying lengths of a finger. All replacement accessories will be supplied with the Alpha and will be available out of the box. Modularity has been the mantra of the CAA gunsmiths and it’s the main highlight of the AK Alfa, said Mikhail Ben Oren.

They also added another innovation in the form of an extractor key. While the Israelis stuck to the basic principle just as it is in the AK, they however enlarged the lever button under the receiving shaft which when pressed unlocks and releases the magazine. The Israelis gun designers “extended” the key to almost to the trigger guard’s middle. As a result, the shooter can now press it with the index finger of the hand that is holding the weapon thus freeing him from reaching out with his second hand to the extractor or knock it down with a magazine.

“I remember that during the service I saw the Austrian Glock for the first time. No one then knew what to do with this “plastic” pistol. Everyone thought that he would take root only among civilians and athletes. And now, Glock is in service with most military and police units around the world. I hope it will be the same with AK Alfa. Someone may decide that this is a sporting weapon since it is made of plastic, but I am sure that it will ideally fit into law enforcement agencies’ arsenal. For this, he has everything he needs,” said Moshe Oz, a veteran of the Israeli special forces. Currently, CAA’s Kiryat Gat manufacturing facility is operating at full capacity.