Over the past several years, the leading enterprises of our arms industry have been developing a sniper complex with the Ugolyok code. The bulk of the development work has already been completed, and next year the finished samples will go to state tests. The Ministry of Defense plans to compare the new rifles and choose the most successful one for further rearmament of snipers.
The start of the ROC “Ugolyok” was announced in February 2019. The goal of the program is to create a sniper complex with a number of characteristic features. It is required to develop two unified self-loading rifles for different cartridges with a set of additional equipment. At the request of the Ministry of Defense, all components of such a complex must be of Russian origin. In fact, it was about the further improvement of the development of the ROC “Tochnost” and about the rejection of imported components.
The customer demanded to create a new weapon for foreign cartridges – .308 Win (7.62×51 mm) and .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6×70 mm). It was also planned to develop new sights and other components of the rifle complex. It was reported about the possibility of creating new modifications of cartridges in given calibers.
Leading developers of small arms – TsNIITOCHMASH, Kalashnikov Concern and TsKIB SOO from the Tula KBP – were involved in the work on the Ugolek R&D project. Each of these organizations must present two new types of rifles. To date, the developers have managed to disclose some of the information about their rifles, but the full appearance of such products has not yet been disclosed.
Microwave rifle chambered for .308 Win. Photo Concern “Kalashnikov”
Two years ago, the management of TsNIITOCHMASH reported that Ugolek rifles were not intended to replace existing SVD products. A promising weapon will have to supplement the available systems and provide confident fire at long ranges, from 800 m. However, later in the press it was repeatedly reported that “Ugolki” would still become a replacement for the SVD. The real plans of the Ministry of Defense in this regard are still unknown.
Challengers to win
At the Army-2017 forum, the Kalashnikov concern for the first time presented the Chukavin SHCh sniper rifle. At that time, versions of weapons were offered for the domestic cartridge 7.62×54 mm R and for the foreign .308 Win. A few months later, they showed a version of the weapon for ammunition .338 LM. Later it became known that the microwave project would be involved in the Ugolek ROC, and the two presented versions of the rifle would be further developed.
In the same 2017, the premiere of the OTs-129 rifle from TsKIB SOO took place, which was later included in the Ugolek ROC. This weapon used the .308 Win cartridge, and the possibility of creating new modifications was not ruled out. Not so long ago, a civilian version of the rifle called the MC-556 was brought to the market. Right now, TsKIB SOO is finalizing the basic model for the special requirements of the new program of the Ministry of Defense.
TsNIITOCHMASH is in no hurry to reveal the appearance of its Ugolyok rifles, although it regularly talks about certain works. So, already in April 2019, the start of testing of experimental rifles was announced. At that time, it was planned to determine the real range and accuracy of fire, as well as evaluate the penetrating effect of bullets. Later it became known about the rejection of the principle of unification: rifles for different cartridges will differ from each other. They also reported about the possibility of creating a civilian version of the army “Ugolok”.
Microwave product for .338 LM. Photo Concern “Kalashnikov”
According to the results of the current stage of the ROC “Ugolyok”, three enterprises should create and submit for comparative tests at once six rifles – two samples of different caliber from each. The current state of affairs in different projects is not completely clear, although there is some information that is conducive to optimism.
At least some of the promising sniper rifles have been successfully brought to factory tests. So, microwave and OTs-129 products in the version for both required ammunition could be tested and fine-tuned even before the start of the Ugolyok program. However, some of the modifications had to be developed after the launch of the new ROC, and they needed to be tested. The same applies to two rifles from TsNIITOCHMASH, the development of which started much later.
The enterprises participating in the project continue to work and prepare for new events. So, the other day TSNIITOCHMASH announced the beginning of the production of experimental rifles of a new type. This year they are planned to be sent for preliminary tests. State tests will begin in 2022.
Next year, the army will have to test and compare a number of promising sniper systems, including a number of new components, and choose the most successful in their calibers. They will be put into service and then go into series with the aim of re-equipping some units of the army.
The MP-556 rifle is a civilian version of the OTs-129 sniper rifle. Photo Modernfirearms.net
What rifles will go to the troops and how they will surpass competitors is unknown. However, some of the results of the ROC “Ugolyok” are already clear. Through the implementation of this program, industry and the armed forces will receive certain benefits of various kinds.
The Ugolek project is interesting for the industry, first of all, due to the expected large orders for the series. In addition, within the framework of this R&D, enterprises have the opportunity to improve their competencies in the field of sniper rifles and related products. In recent years, serious progress has been observed in this area, but it is still far from world leadership – and for this it is necessary to create and improve new models.
According to the results of the ROC “Ugolyok”, our army for the first time in several decades will receive fundamentally new sniper systems. They are created taking into account the actual needs and requirements of the army, as well as using modern materials and technologies, which in itself gives significant advantages. In addition, all components will be produced in our country, which will protect the rearmament from problems with imports.
Apparently, the rifles of the Ugolyok family will surpass the existing SVD and its modifications in terms of their main characteristics. First of all, an increase in fire parameters is expected due to the use of a more powerful foreign cartridge or its promising analogue of domestic development. There are also opportunities to improve ergonomics and other performance.
A promising rifle chambered for .338 LM from TsNIITOCHMASH. Photo Bastion-karpenko.ru
Earlier it was reported that the Ugolek rifle complex would become part of the modernized combat equipment of the Ratnik serviceman. This BEV includes modern means of communication and control, which make it possible to more fully reveal the potential of weapons and increase the efficiency of the shooter’s work. In the future, the Ugolyok rifles can also go into the promising Sotnik outfit.
However, in order to obtain all these results, it is necessary to complete the development of projects, compare them and establish mass production of the best sample with subsequent deliveries to the troops. The current stage of the Ugolek R&D project is planned to be completed no later than 2022-23, and then the rearmament of combat units will begin. A sufficient share of new weapons in the troops will be achieved even later.
Experience and perspective
In recent years, domestic enterprises have developed a number of modern sniper systems and have accumulated solid experience. However, due to the lack of developments in some areas, it was necessary to rely on foreign materials, technologies and components. Now it is proposed to use the existing experience, improve existing weapons and refuse to import.
Work on such a task continues and is already yielding the desired results in the form of experimental weapons. It is not known which of the proposed samples the army will choose. But it is already clear that ongoing development work will be beneficial for both the military and gunsmiths.