Saturday, April 26, 2014

Army, Marines Upgrade their Standard Rifles

Ironically, one of the last steps in Chile's long military modernization involves the most basic weapon: the standard infantry rifle. The Army and Marines are replacing their assault rifles with new models from Belgium and Israel. The Marines decided on the SCAR family, specifically the SCAR-L 5.56 mm assault rifle, SCAR-H 7.62 mm scout rifle and 7.62 mm version of the MINIMI machine gun. The SCAR-L, made by FN Herstal of Belgium, was designed for U.S. SOCOM as a versatile weapon that comes with a standard 14.5-inch barrel but can be switched to a 10-inch barrel in five minutes. The SCARs, which replace the Hecker & Koch HK33SG1 rifles, won out over the Colt M-4 carbine for an order of up to 3,500 guns. The Marines are already using their new SCAR rifles, as images from their deployments in April's two disaster zones have shown. The Army, reports say, has chosen the Galil ACE from Israel Weapon Industries. The 5.56 mm rifle is known for being a reliable weapon that's easy to maintain and operate. The ACE beat out the SIG Sauer 556 carbine, which reportedly did not perform well in Chile's desert. The Swiss arms maker has long relationship with Chile: The Army's Famae armaments company has been making the SIG 510 and 540 models for decades and it is the current standard Army rifle. The HK33 and the SIG 510/540 are fine weapons, but they are old designs that lack some modern features such as adjustable buttstocks. At last month's FIDAE air show, Famae introduced its own design of an assault rifle with Picatinny rails and other improvements. The SCAR and ACE make Chile's infantry better integrated with U.S. and western forces, a strategy Chile has followed in most of its upgrade programs. The acquisitions come far into Chile's military modernization, but rifle technology hasn't changed that much, which could explain why armor, UAVs and other systems had priority.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nato's caliber 5.56 mm is much weaker, and has less punch than the old Nato cal. 7.62. US soldiers are overloaded with gadgets and supplies (and budgets).
They can carry between 50 and 100 pounds of non-weapons. Thus, they are forced to carry lighter ammunition. If Chile chose cal. 5.56 for the sake of interoperability, then it is, at the same time, downgrading its rifles!