The AKN-145 [АКН-145] - short for «Автомат Кокшаров-Никонов 2045», or "Assault Rifle of Koksharov & Nikonov 2045" - is, in one derivative or another, the current primary service rifle of the modern Soviet military. Developed in direct response to modern Western body armor technologies, the AKN-145 was designed specifically for use in conjunction with the bulky powered exoskeletal armored suits worn by the USSR's combat troops, which were themselves created as a way of countering NATO's wide-scale adoption of magnetics based weaponry (coilgun smallarms in particular).
It is a departure from the traditions and trends common to the Soviets' general-issue smallarms designs, being a large and [relatively] mechanically complex battle rifle. However, in reality, the AKN-145 is a mass-produced synthesis of several cutting edge weapons designs from the late 20th Century and early 21st Century. Its basic technologies have been around for at least half-a-decade and it incorporates few truly new features.
It is also worth noting that the AKN-145 is not a 'Kalashnikov-series' rifle and does not share any direct developmental / design heritage with the original Avtomat Kalashnikova [«Автомат Калашникова»], better known as the 'AK-47' outside the USSR. In fact, the AKN-145 isn't even an assault rifle, technically speaking, but rather a battle rifle - its ammunition is not sub-calibre (relative to the rifle cartridges which were standard prior to & during World War II, such as the venerable 7.62x51mm NATO or 7.62x54mm Russian rounds). Its only mechanical and/or operational commonalities with the original AK is the over-barrel gas piston and the general layout of the weapon. It nonetheless retains a very AK-like external appearance and should be considered, if nothing else, a distant relative - preserving much of the spirit and principles behind Kalashnikov's venerable assault rifle.
The AKN-145 was, as stated above, created in response to NATO's wide-scale deployment of carbon fibre-based body armors, which are capable of easily defeating - and absorbing the kinetic force from - the conventional 5.54- and 7.62mm smallarms ammunition still in common use by the Soviets during the first quarter of the 21st Century.
It is a 'mass production' synthesis of the inovations from several prior - much older - rifle designs, primarily the AK-131 and AN-135:
The AK-131, the Soviets' previous main service rifle, had itself been created in response to rapidly-evolving body armor technology. This weapon was a return to the larger 7.62mm calibre ammunition (although with a different cartridge from the venerable 7.62mmR), accomplished by incorporating recoil buffering technology that allowed control to be maintained with a larger charge / propulsive force behind the bullet. It was the first rifle in the world to chamber high-explosive incendiary/armor-piercing (HEIAP) ammunition as standard - the centerfire 7.62x59mm 'CCCP'. The power of these rounds, however, soon proved ineffective against the even newer carbon-nanotube-based armors coming into use in the West, which had only been in very limited service with NATO special forces troops when the AK-131 and its cartridges were first designed / introduced. By the closing years of the 2030s, such protection was NATO standard and the Soviets needed a new main service rifle yet aain.
Meanwhile, the AKN-145's other principle predecessor, the AN-135, was a development of the earlier AN-94 from the last decade of the 20th Century. This weapon includes a unique three-round revolver mechanism running off a small electric motor and a dual gas / blowback operating system, whereby each trigger pull releases a rapid three-round burst and the felt recoil is delayed until the third bullet leaves the barrel. The AN-135 served as a staple for Soviet Special Forces like the infamous Spetsnaz and VDV airborne troops well into the 2040s, having been modified - as the AN-135M - to use the 7.62x59mm HEIAP cartridges developed for the above-mentioned AK-131. Much-updated versions and derivatives of the AN-135 continue to see use in the Soviet Military today, alongside the AKN-145. They are issued to those troops without powered armor exoskeletons, due to their more 'normal' weight, firing characteristics, etc.
Definitive development of the rifle that would be the AKN-145 began shortly - within a few years - after the AK-131 entered mass production. It combines the features of the two above-mentioned weapons, a fact which is reflected in its name (the 'K' in 'AKN' is from the AK-131, or "Avtomat Koksharov", while the 'N' is from the AN-135 or "Avtomat Nikonov"). Also incorporated are the modular Western-style mounting rails first used on the AK-12 (the predecessor to the AK-131 and the last 'Kalashnikov-series' Soviet service rifle).
Design & CharacteristicsEdit
The basis of the AKN-145 is a new, larger, 12.7mm (or 0.50") High-Explosive Incendiary/Armor-Piercing cartridge - which is a calibre more suited to said HEIAP configuration than the 7.62mm of the AK-131, in the first place. Because carbon-based armor is capable of deflecting or resisting even the raw power of this oversized half-inch round, however, developing the capability to put a burst of two or three shots within the narrowest possible timeframe and smallest possible area became crucial to any future Soviet service rifle. The electric revolving chamber from the AN-135 was incorporated into the AKN-145 design for this very purpose, as it results in three bullets being discharged by a single cycle of the firing mechanism. In other words, in semi-automatic (what would conventionally be called 'single-shot') mode, each trigger-pull of the AKN-145 will fire off a triplet of rounds so quickly that their individual discharges cannot be distinguished either visually or audibly - essentially, each shot is three bullet. And unlike in the original AN-135, because the AKN-145's mechanism is timed and tuned differently, this unique firing cycle is not limited to the first discharge when in automatic mode. Every shot / cycle of an AKN-145 firing on full-auto looses three bullets.
The AKN-145 also incorporates the Balanced Automatic Recoil System (BARS) from the AK-131, which was first developed in the 1970s and used in many prior limited-production rifles. An evolution of the traditional Soviet piston-over-barrel gas operating mechanism still moves the bolt and bolt carrier, much the same as in an old Kalashnikov - albiet using the short-stroke configuration rather than a vintage AK's long-stroke piston. The This re-directed / backwards-pushing gas and the force of the recoil are used to drive a counter-weight that rests above (and largely wraps around) the chamber / revolver. The movement of this weight, in an example of Newton's Third Law of Motion, negates much of the substantial kinetic energy from the AKN-145's unique triple-fire cycle and massive half-inch bullets, as well as 'delays' the remaining recoil until after all three rounds have left the barrel. Even so, it would have considerable muzzle climb and kick for a human without a powered exoskeleton. In the hands of the armored Soviet Infantryman, however, it is almost perfectly stable and can be fired with impressive accuracy even from the hip at a run - irrespective of any attached optics or the electronics systems in his suit.
The actual bullets on the AKN-145 are electrically-primed: it has no firing pin. Thus, the bolt merely serves to provide cartridge ejection and obturation (gas-tight sealing) of the breech. Operation requires a battery, which is inserted horizontally into the rear of the main body above and in front of the stock, directly behind the rear sights. This battery must be replaced regularly, but infrequently - without it, the weapon is useless.
The rifle's internal workings includes two electric motors. One drives the cycling of the revolver cylinder (which rotates constantly so that it does not require any 'spin up' time, eliminating the delay common to many electrically-operated cannons and Gatling guns). The other is used to power a fan mechanism in the forestock (the barrel housing, in front of the magazine) that actively forces air through it and cools the firearm despite its substantial heat generation. In addition, this battery provides energy for the many attachments and accessories mounted on the rails as required.
The presence of electrical components and motors produces a distinctive - if muffled - whirring sound when the AKN-145 is 'active' (i.e. turned on), audible if the weapon is held close to the head. The ambidextrous power switch, located on both sides above the fire selector, has four positions: off, and on (toggled by moving the slide vertically) as well as 'dark' and 'low signature' (toggled by moving the slide forward from the on position). 'Dark' mode simply eliminates all external light sources on the rifle, while 'low signature' additionally turns down the power of the internal electrical components to produce less noise (at the cost of a slight 'spin-up' delay for the revolver chamber and reduced cooling efficiency).
Additional novel features of the AKN-145 include two secondary, iron sights located on the upper sides at angles, so that it can be tilted either way on its axis by the shooter and aimed the conventional, old-fashioned way. These are rarely employed, however, because using such sights with the armor exoskeleton's fully-enclosed helmet and its high-definition video / HUD goggle eye-pieces is essentially impossible. The rifle has no provision for a bayonet apart from the under-barrel accessory rail, which is more-or-less never fitted with one.
Operational Use & AccessoriesEdit
The standard accessory loadout on the AKN-145's modular rails, as proscribed for the simple Soviet rifleman, is as follows:
- Main [Upper / top] Rail - ПТЭ/Вп-45 [Tr. PTE/Vp-45]
- The PTE/Vp-45 - or «Прицел Томография Электронный / Винтовка пехоты 2045» [Tr. Pritsel Tomografiya Elektronnyy / Vintovka pekhoty 2045], meaning "Electronic Imaging Sight / Infantry Rifle of 2045" - is the principle optic for the AKN-45 and is designed specifically to be used in conjunction with Soviet infantry powered exoskeletons. It is not really a scope, but more of a data collection mechanism for the armor's integral computer and information systems, primarily relayed through the on-board HUD [Heads-Up-Display]. The PTE/Vp resembles a brick in shape - long, rectangular and rather bulky - but flares out to a greater width & height at its front end to house an array of small digital micro-cameras. This is effectively a compound eye, like that of an insect, and the device 'sees' in a variety of different wavelengths / spectrums with a wider field of view than is possible for the human eye. Each of these cameras is individually articulating in a small ball socket with telescoping (retracting / zooming) capability, modifying depth perception as necessary. The movement of the cameras is regulated automatically by a small processor in the scope in accordance with a complex set of external factors to provide maximum effectiveness. Information the device collects is fed wirelessly into the microprocessor computer system built into the helmet and collar of the rifleman wielding the rifle, where it is processed and amalgamated before being fed into the HUD. It is possible for the soldier to toggle between various vision modes that emphasize a particular spectrum of light, but the standard display mode effectively provides information concerning the full range. However, the PTE/Vp-45 has a display panel - a small high-definition video screen - at its back and can be used as a conventional scope as well, although the information fed into this image is considerably more condensed than the full HUD array and more narrowed. Magnification up to x12 is possible either through the HUD or the scope itself, although practically-speaking it is rarely used beyond half this power. In fact, because of the aim-assistance software in the rifleman's exoskeleton, 'zoom' of any level is not often necessary. For a soldier utilizing the helmet HUD, when the rifle is raised up to the shoulder to be aimed, the image feed on the back of the scope is holographically super-imposed at a larger size directly onto his retina by the imaging systems. Because these hologram projectors are located around the rim of the facemask's eye sockets, this feature will activate even if the lenses themselves are retracted.
- Under-barrel rail - An angled foregrip that has a non-symmetrical triangle profile when viewed from the side [see picture to the right]. The design is a compromise between the more traditional vertical or pistol foregrips preferred in the West and the classical method of gripping the forward portion of the rifle (the forestock) with the hand flat and flush against the rifle. This allows for more weapon stability than is possible with the traditional Vertical Foregrip but less control and less mitigation of weight / user fatigue - factors which are of essentially no concern because of a given Soviet rifleman's powered exoskeleton. This arrangement is better suited than the vertical foregrip or a simple flush forestock to a Soviet exoskeleton system because the heavy, reinforced and partially-armored gauntlets reduce fine dexterity and create an abnormally-large palm / finger surface area. This standard AKN-145 foregrip includes a relatively complex multispectral laser sight emitter that is designed to operate primarily in non-visual light spectrums, being visible through the rifleman's HUD. This a 'triad'-style laser sight - i.e. three individual tightly-grouped beams arranged like the verticies [corners / points] of a triangle [as with the movie 'Predator']. The emitters, like the cameras of the above-mentioned scope, individually articulate as well as zoom / retract in separate ball sockets. This allows the 'triangle' created by the sight to expand and contract to indicate the Circular Error Probable (or 'bullet spread'). Also included is a secondary trigger - which is wirelessly connected to the rifle's onboard rudimentary electronics package and, by extension, the exoskeletal computer system of the weapon's wielder - that is used to activate / fire various other attachments when the capability is necessary.
- Left-side Secondary Rail -
- Right-side Secondary Rail -