Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the world's most popular assault rifle, says that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are using his invention in preference to their own weapons, proving that his gun is still the best.This doesn't sound like the same Mr. Kalashnikov who declared four years ago that he wished he'd invented a lawnmower instead. From a 2002 Guardian article:
"Even after lying in a swamp you can pick up this rifle, aim it and shoot. That's the best job description there is for a gun. Real soldiers know that and understand it," the 86-year-old gunmaker told a weekend news conference in Moscow.
"In Vietnam, American soldiers threw away their M-16 rifles and used (Kalashnikov) AK-47s from dead Vietnamese soldiers, with bullets they captured. That was because the climate is different to America, where M-16s may work properly," he said.
"Look what's happening now: every day on television we see that the Americans in Iraq have my machine guns and assault rifles in their armored vehicles. Even there American rifles don't work properly."
"I'm proud of my invention, but I'm sad that it is used by terrorists," he said on a visit to Germany, adding: "I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work - for example a lawnmower."Here's the frightening end of the Reuters article:
His comment, made to the German tabloid Bild, was reminiscent of Albert Einstein's remark reflecting on his role in the development of the atom bomb: "If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."
In 1941 a fellow soldier asked him: "Why do our soldiers have only one rifle between three men, while the Germans have automatics?" "So I invented an automatic," he said.
Kalashnikov designed his first weapon in 1947 and is still chief constructor at Izhmash arms factory in Izhevsk in the Urals mountains.
The factory's director Vladimir Grodetsky told the news conference that around a billion rifles had been produced around the world using parts of Kalashnikovs or based on the same design, only 10-12 percent of which were made in Russia.