Vladislav Lobaev is the founder of the first Russian private arms company and one of the best-known manufacturers of high-precision long-range rifles. Today the company diversifies its business and masters absolutely new lines of activity.
The company’s history began in 2005, when Vladislav Lobaev with a couple of his like-minded fellows established a production facility, more truly, a workshop for manufacturing high-precision rifles. In order to collect enough money for the initial capital, the founder of the Tsar-Cannon (that was the name of the firm) had even to sell his own apartment.
At the beginning the company has assembled weapons of imported component parts, but approximately by 2007 it had mastered a complete production cycle. In 2010, the Tsar-Cannon closed a license agreement with TAWAZUN Concern of the United Arab Emirates. In three years Lobaev has founded LOBAEV Corporation in Russia (brand of LOBAEV Arms).
Nowadays the range of company’s products includes seven high-precision rifles of different calibers. Some of them are capable of hitting targets at the distance exceeding two thousand meters, while an alleged accuracy of Lobaev’s rifles equals less than half a minute of angle (МOА).
The arms workshop itself has turned into a multiproduct Holding Company.
Vladislav, what are the processes that are going on inside the company? We know that you expand the production facilities, do you work on new lines of activity?
We build the Holding of three companies, including Design Bureau of Integrated Systems (DBIS) that is the main development agency of small-arms systems, Trading company LOBAEV Arms, and a subdivision LOBAEV Robotics dealing with design and manufacturing of robotic systems and projects relating to electronics.
It is a large project, however it has been never thought of like that. Presently the recent trends are being in progress, maybe, they will become the basic ones. Of course, rifles will be dealt with, but there exist more interesting goals that engross the lion’s share of time.
What are these projects, what is the readiness phase thereof?
To begin with, let me tell you that in 2017 we will completely renew the existing model range of the rifles, we are making ready for production a brand new rifle unique for the market – a high-precision long-range semi-automatic rifle of .338 LM (Lapua Magnum) and .408 CheyTac calibers, we are setting up production of two new hunting models.
DBIS develops the hypersonic munitions, smart dual-channel sighting device (with day-time TV channel and thermal-imaging channel).
We are getting ready to launch quantity production of an automated system of perimeter security, it will be provided in lethal and non-lethal versions. I will not disclose its performance characteristics. We develop also the light high-mobility tactical robots Minirex; this is a joint development of DBIS and LOBAEV Robotics.
Let us begin from traditional produce. You referred to your self-loading rifle as a unique one. What will be the difference between these rifles and, let's say, Barrett rifles?
First of all, the difference consists in fire precision and range. The self-loading Barrett rifles of identical caliber feature accuracy of about 2 МOА and steadily hit a target at the distances of up to 1,600 meters, maximum – up to 1,800 meters. We have succeeded to gain accuracy up to 0.5 МOА for .408 cartridges, and provide for reliable target hitting at the distances of two kilometers. Believe me, it is very far from simple to make a half-MOA self-loading rifle with the range of 2.000 m.
We have developed a similar rifle in the UAE, and we managed to attain the desired accuracy, but the problems with weapons reliability remained. Now we were able to solve them, proceeding from the experience and new knowledge.
Technically this is a gas-vented semi-automatic weapon with rotation bolt locking. The magazine cases are for five cartridges of .408 caliber and for 10 cartridges of .338 caliber. We made the magazine cases ourselves, and they appeared to be very reliable.
Supposedly, we will present the new product in March. It does not even have any commercial name so far.
What about hunting rifles?
These are long-standing pilot projects too, that started in the Emirates. Two rifles featuring manual reloading and straight pull bolt, like Blaser’s, but with different locking principle. One of them has been made with aluminum tactical stock, it weighs 2.5 kilograms only. The second one has been made purely in hunting design.
You have mentioned the hypersonic munitions, are they the pilot projects too? And the term “hypersonic”, what does it stand for?
They are absolutely new. The hypersonic implies speed from Mach 5, i.е. exceeding 1,500 meters per second. We are developing munitions with the initial speed exceeding 2,000 meters per second. It will provide just crazy flatness and armor-piercing effect, for instance, and it will make it possible to shoot to one thousand meters making no corrections.
Definitely, the service life of barrels will become somewhat lower when using these cartridges, but taking into account the tasks to be solved, the economic effect will be higher.
What about a smart sighting device you talked about, is it a domestic analog of American Tracking Point or something simpler?
In terms of functions it is the analog of Tracking Point, it is also provided with ballistic computer connected via Bluetooth with weather station at the weapon or with scattered separate sensors. It is also provided with automatic or manual target lock-on, a mode of target tracking. A computer with Linux operation system analyzes input data (distance, speed of target motion, weather conditions, etc.) and automatically chooses the time for shooting. The sighting device components are distributed in the stock of the new rifle, which looks fairly in a “Star Wars” manner; we had to specifically develop a new weapon.
A difference from the analogs consists in a two-channel design; other sighting devices are provided either with thermal-imaging channel, or with TV channel, we have both. And another difference is the range; the competitors provide 800 meters, our device is intended for shooting at distances exceeding two kilometers, i.e. it will fit the long-range firing capability of our existing models.
What is the meaning of “scattered sensors”?
A shooter is exposed to wind, and the near-target northing is also exposed to wind. One can use additional wind gauges with wireless communication channel. For example, a drone disperses several sensors and you can control the entire battlefield.
A functional mock-up will be ready at the end of January. It will take two to three months more for the production prototype to appear.
I see it is just one of the lines of activity, where the Holding Company is involved. What else do you do? It would be interesting to hear about a complex of perimeter security.
In accordance with corporate policy, we can not disclose any details and performance characteristics until an article is ready for sale in the storage in the amount of 20–50 units. Otherwise we would disclose the idea to the market prematurely.
It is a robotized system for safeguarding various objects, including Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, government and commercial buildings. It is controlled by one person. Depending on the purpose, the sniper robots can use either lethal or non-lethal munitions, and it is possible to changeover quite quickly from one type of munitions to another. The arms platform is equipped with a drum comprising magazine cases of different types, which can be interchanged. This is all, so far.
Highlight of the show is robot Minirex. Please, give us more details about it.
It is a mobile tactical complex developed specifically for city battles and anti-terrorist operations. It features good all-terrain capability; it is able to climb the stairs, to use hides, to fire from window openings. If it falls, it will manage to rise from any position.
The complex weighs 35 kilograms only, it can find room in a knapsack and be carried by a crew of two persons: an operator and a shooter. A special shooting device with 7.62×39 mm caliber and efficient shooting range on the head figure of up to 400 meters will be used as the weapon. There are options for a cartridge of 9×39 mm, .338 LW and .408 LW.
Minirex is provided with two sighting channels: a day-time TV channel and a thermal-imaging channel converged into a single image. It features the built-in ballistic computer, capability of automatic or manual target lock-on. Minirex is provided with target memory. Let's say, it locks on the target, turns away, and as soon as it turns back again, it will recollect the target and focus on it. Add our firm-special accuracy to it.
Now we are developing a heavier robotized anti-sniper system with shooting range exceeding two kilometers.
Having began from sniper rifles you switched over to smart sighting devices and robots. Why?
As I said before, we do not abandon rifles. But I understand what weapons will be used by everyone in five to ten years. And we are not going to jump into the last train, we would like to be the railway engine. The self-loading rifle, the hunting rifles are only changing of old things at the new round of knowledge. But these sightings and robots are absolutely new: though the perimeter complex has been at the stage of design for two years, only now it became possible to make it.
What was the obstacle?
Money. Actually, the absence of money. Nowadays, the investor has appeared, who is interested in it, we develop this trend together.
Our private arms companies are often referred to as the workshops, what are the capabilities of your production facility?
Presently, 50 rifles a month are offered for sale, beginning from March we will increase supplies up to 100 pieces. This is quite an important series for the articles of such complexity level. The equipment (we use very expensive five-axis and ten-axis machine tools that cost half a million of euro) makes it possible to manufacture 5,000 rifles a year. Though, the production is related to demand; it is not a sure bet that they will be sold as quickly as they are produced.
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