Weapons: Do It Yourself

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January 30, 2017: In January 2017 a state-owned Turkish factory delivered the first 500 of 20,000 mass produced 7.62mm MPT-76 assault rifles. The state owned factories had long produced the G3, a similar, but much older (1950s) German design under license. The state owned rifle factories have been switching over to production of the MPT-76 and have produced, along with a Turkish firm (KaleKalip, which did much of the design work on MPT-76) several thousand MPT-76s so far for testing and to get ready for mass production. KaleKalip will build 15,000 of the first 35,000 and continue building the MPT-76 for the Turkish military and export customers. Eventually over half a million MPT-76s will be built to replace most of the aging G3s.

The MPT-76 has a Picatinny rail on top of receiver with additional on the top and bottom of the forward stock. The Picatinny rail has become the standard way to attach a growing number of accessories like sights, laser designators, flash lights as well as shotguns and grenade launchers under the barrel. The MPT-76 has several other features common in the latest designs like safety/fire selector switch single shots and fully automatic fire that can be easily used by those who are right or left handed. The 4.1kg (9.03 pound) MPT-76 is cheaper to build (at about $1,300 each) but is lighter, easier to handle and generally more capable than the G3 design. The MPT-76 can also be more easily converted to fire 5.56mm rounds or shorter barrel versions.

Turkey tried lighter rifles using the 5.56mm round but the troops preferred a NATO standard 7.62mm weapon because they often operate in in desert, mountains and hills where longer range and accuracy are needed that the 7.62mm round can better provide. Most armed forces find that their troops rarely have to sue their rifles at targets more than 200-400 meters which the 5.56mm round can handle. At longer ranges the 7.62mm round is superior as well as being more effective at shooting through doors and walls.

The locally developed and produced MPT-76 is part of a self-sufficiency program what has reduced weapons imports to 40 percent of needs from over 80 percent back in 2000. All this is largely the result of a booming post-Cold War economy. This is partly the result of because a new government making good on its pledge to crack down on the corruption that had long crippled the economy. As the economy grew, the government sought to make Turkey more self-sufficient in military equipment. This includes military vehicles and aircraft. Some items were developed locally because they could not be imported from the usual suppliers. For example the United States was reluctant to provide armed UAVs because of the growing influence of Islamic conservatives within the government. So that government asked Turkish firms to develop it.

A larger UAV was the easy part but by early 2016 Turkey successfully tested a locally designed and made laser guided missile (MAM-L) for use by its existing UAVs. The laser guided MAM-L is a 22.5 kg (50 pound) weapon with a 10 kg (22 pound) warhead has a range of eight kilometers. A Turkish designed and built UAV (the Bayraktar), carried the MAM-L for the test and was soon using it in combat. Bayraktar is a 650 kg (1,433 pound) aircraft with a 55 kg (121 pound) payload and an endurance of 24 hours. First flight was in 2009 and it entered service in 2016. This is two years later than planned but as every developer of large UAVs knows, there are always unexpected glitches that have to be encountered and fixed along the way.

There is also a Bayraktar Mini UAV which is a 4.6 kg (9.9 pound) aircraft that is battery powered and hand launched. Endurance is 60 minutes and the Bayraktar can operate up to 15 kilometers from the operator. The Turkish Army has been using the Bayraktar Mini since 2007.

Turkey has long been a reliable source of maintenance and upgrades for commercial and military aircraft and is using those decades of experience to expand into the design and construction of military aircraft and vehicles.

 


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