Mikhail Kalashnikov, the 94-year-old inventor of the world’s most popular firearm, the AK-47, died Monday in a Russian hospital, a local government official said, RIA Novosti reports.
“We received sad news today: legendary small-arms inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov died at the age of 94 after a prolonged illness,” Viktor Chulkov, a spokesman for the head of the Udmurtia republic, Kalashnikov’s home region, wrote on Facebook.
Kalashikov had been recently admitted to an intensive care unit at a hospital in Udmurtia’s regional capital, Izhevsk, while “in serious but stable condition,” according to the local branch of Russia’s Health Ministry.
In June, the famed weapons designer underwent an operation in Moscow to have a pacemaker implanted.
Kalashikov developed the concept of a reliable assault rifle for the Soviet infantry during the Second World War.
During his convalescence stay in Kazakhstan in 1941, he quickly produced a prototype version of his assault rifle at a local train depot workshop. Fine-tuning the experimental model took five years, and in 1946 it successfully passed the last of a series of firing tests.
The AK-47 went into mass production in February 1947. An estimated 100 million AK-47s have been built worldwide since then, according to the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategic and Technologies, or CAST.