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Experts with center for army, conversion and disarmament studies say Ukraine has good chances for getting established on international market of individual firearms
09.09.2003 | 12:36

Ukraine possesses all necessary prerequisites to get firmly established on the international market of individual firearms, Valentyn Badrak, director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies, told a news conference in Kyiv.

As he said, Ukraine is selling such weapons abroad, basically from the Defense Ministry's superfluous stocks of firearms. Besides, he said, brand-new weapons are being exported too, in particular, pistols, which the Vinnytsia-based FORT makes. However, new security challenges necessitate development of more advanced weapons, in particular, such that will meet NATO's standards, the expert noted.

Otherwise Ukrainian manufacturers of firearms will fail to retain and consolidate their footing on external markets. Moreover, he said, Ukraine will have to buy advanced firearms from foreign manufacturers.

As Serhi Zgurets, chief of the Center's program department, noted, there are about 1,000 companies in a hundred nations, which export individual firearms. The international market of such weapons in evaluated at between four and six billion dollars a year, of which elicit shipments account for about one billion dollars. Ukraine's exports of individual firearms account for a meager one to two percent of the nation's total exports of weapons and military enginery.

Russia ranks the world's 13th biggest exporter of individual fire-arms, and Ukraine's rating is much more modest, though Ukrainian manufacturers have rather good chances for being better-rated on this market. Former Soviet Central Asiatic republics, such as Uzbekistan, African countries may be regarded as promising markets by Ukrainian manufactures of small firearms, Serhi Zgurets said.

In his opinion, serial manufacture of Ukraine's most advanced submachine-gun, codenamed the Vepr ("Boar"), which has been developed by the National Space Agency's R&D Center for precision engineering, will boost Ukrainian law enforcememtn officers' capability of fighting crime and terrorism.

By 2010 the Defense Ministry will buy dozens of thousands of these new submachine-guns, which the National Space Agency's R&D Center for precision engineering has designed and which have been codenamed "Veprs" ("Boars").

According to Aleksandr Selyukov, the R&D Center's director, the weapon's development cost 100,000 dollars. As he said, about 500,000 USD will be necessary for launching serial manufacture of the advanced submachine-guns. He stated the new weapon's likely price around 100 dollars, which will make it quite competitive vis-a-vis the renowned Kalashnikov automatic rifle.

As independent expert Serhi Halushko stressed, the Vepr submachine-gun's attractiveness could be further enhanced through reducing the weapon's weight and attaching some other gadgets to it, such as a hand grenade launcher. Yet, even now, he said, the Vepr's performance is very impressive, as it possesses better backfire and precision properties. Besides, he said, the designers took into account behavioral patterns of a normal individual in emergency situations, basically relying on instincts, so the weapon will be enough efficient even if handled by a novice.

By 2010 the Defense Ministry means to purchase dozens of thousands of Veprs, Mr Selyukov noted. The issue remains open with regard to the weapon's likely manufacturer, he said, because the Vepr's state tests will be completed next year.

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