Weapons: May 2, 2004



Steyr will launch the latest version of the popular AUG series of  5.56mm assault rifles, the AUG A3, within a year. If you have a chance to handle one, note that there will be a 'Made in Malaysia' stamp on it. The AUG A3 is an upgraded model of the popular assault rifle series, incorporating three rail attachment points on the weapon's upper receiver and carrying handle. this allows the AUG A3 to accept a combination of attachments at any one time, such as a grenade launcher, a laser designator and a night vision sight.

Like many countries, Malaysia had purchased a license to manufacture the AUG for domestic use, but they have now signed an agreement with Steyr-Mannlicher AG & Co KG to manufacture the AUG3 exclusively in Malaysia, and they intend to export 15,000 to 20,000 AUG3 world-wide ever year, which  would make Malaysia the largest exporter of small arms in the world.

The Steyr AUG was one of the first bullpup (magazine behind trigger, therefore shortening the length of the rifle) rifles to appear in the 1970s. Its innovative modular design and extensive use of plastic components still makes it a very modern rifle. Because of its compact bullpup design, it is the favorite choice of many special forces who need a weapon with the power of an assault rifle the size of a sub-machine gun for urban warfare and close quarters.

The AUG's versatile modular design contributes to its popularity. The 'base' rifle can be easily taken apart without tools and re-configured. For example, replace the standard 20 inch (508mm) rifle barrel with a 16 inch (408mm) barrel, and you get a carbine, or else add a heavier 24 inch (621mm) barrel (with bipod) to turn it into a Squad Assault Weapon. The rifle can also be easily configured from right-hand fire to left-hand fire. The compact bullpup shape of the AUG has made it an ideal choice for special forces seeking a compact weapon for fighting in tight spaces.

The AUG has a good reputation of durability and robustness in the field, with plenty of countries employing it as the main assault rifle of their armies. Australian-made AUGs have been battle tested by Australian forces in East Timor and Afghanistan. - Shawn Chung

Pics of new AUG A3 can be seen here;




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