The U.S. military has supplied hundreds of thousands of Soviet-style assault rifles and machine guns to allies and partners over the years and acquired some of its own for special operations and other training purposes, but it has had to largely source those weapons from friendly third-party countries that still make them, according to Military Times.
Worried about the reliability of this supply chain, U.S. Special Operations Command has hired contractors to build derivatives of certain guns in the United States, a move that has now incited the ire of Russia.
In 2017, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) put out a contract notice through the U.S. government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program calling on private companies to submit proposals to build analogs to the 7.62x54mm PKM light machine gun and the 12.7x108mm NSV heavy machine gun. Dillon Aero, Knight’s Armament Company, and McNally Industries all subsequently received deals to conduct research studies into the feasibility of building these guns.
“Several countries hold licenses for manufacturing Russian machine guns of this model, but the U.S. is not among them,” Viktor Bondarev, a member of Russia’s Duma, the country’s top legislative body, and Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on Defense and Security, told state-run media outlet TASS separately that same day.
“If U.S. intentions evolve into real actions, if they start making concrete steps in an effort to use our technologies without permission, if they start re-engineering and manufacturing our heavy machine guns on the U.S. territory, then we should react decisively and promptly.”