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German machine for the Fifth Republic

Германский автомат для Пятой республики

The Germans and the Belgians will compete for the right to arm the French army

The French military decided to abandon their machine before the end of this year, General Directorate of armaments (DGA) French defense Ministry will officially announce what weapon will replace the assault rifle (machine gun) FAMAS, standing in service with the army since 1977. This was reported by the portal Les Sentinelles. Folding your own small arms production in the late twentieth century has led to the fact that now, for the right to arm the French army will fight the Germans and the Belgians.

FAMAS (Fusil d’assaut de la Manufacture d’armes de St-Etienne) developed in the first half of the 1970s and has a unique design and unusual design. Weapons made by the scheme bullpup — shop, the chamber and the trigger mechanism (USM) is located behind the handle fire control. The trigger mechanism allows single fire, and bursts fixed bursts of three rounds. Technical rate of fire — up to 1.1 thousand rounds per minute, the power is from detachable box magazine capacity of 25 or 30 rounds. For the unusual appearance of the rifle was nicknamed “kleron” — horn, trumpet. Currently adopted in France are about 400 thousand machines. in different versions. Over time they will gradually be replaced by the new small arms.

According to the requirements of the French military, the new machines need to use the cartridge caliber 5,56×45 NATO, equipped with grenade launchers of caliber of 40 millimeters, or have the ability to fire grenades shaft streaks. Plus new weapons should be free to integrate into the set of equipment “soldier of the future” FELIN.

The tender for the purchase of the first one hundred thousand rifles was attended by five companies: Heckler & Koch (Germany), FN Herstal (Belgium), Beretta (Italy), Swiss Arms (Switzerland) and HS Produkt of Croatia. Last week became known to the finalists: automatic rifle Heckler & Koch HK416 and the Belgian FN SCAR. The final decision of the French military can make in a month.

…all polymers

The decision of the French to replace their FAMAS the foreign car may seem odd when you consider that France is, in principle, wary of joint defence projects. Since the late nineteenth century the French army was overwhelmed by a desire not to depend on commercial structures and not to allow foreigners into their military secrets, and therefore adopted only the models developed by their state-owned defense — government Arsenal (except, of course, were, but they are few). In addition, in the first half of the twentieth century, the country already had a good small school, offering interesting concepts and projects.



Германский автомат для Пятой республики

French soldiers with FAMAS rifle

Photo: U.S. Army


However, at the turn of the century the attitude of shooting the subject of the Fifth Republic has changed a lot. The release of the FAMAS was discontinued in 90-e years — the needs of the army were satisfied. And in the course of reforming defense company GIAT in the production of its own small arms for the army was curtailed and now physically aging rifle to replace simply nothing.

“It was very expensive to maintain a large and complex production, which is not supported by the regular release of mass production,” — says the decision of the French officials historian of small arms, the representative of the concern “Kalashnikov” Maxim Popenker. The issue of profitability of small arms production at the defensive enterprises not only relevant for France. According to the Deputy Director for economic safety at JSC NPO “Precision complexes” Alexander Shulakova “strelkovka” the large Russian factories — the concern “Kalashnikov”, “Molot”, Tula arms factory — subsidized at the expense of production of more expensive and more margin of military products, anti-tank missiles. The exception is the production of military and civilian small arms for export.

Strange machine

As for the FAMAS, its export capacity was initially low. The concept of the rifle proved to be very controversial: experts often call her “more original than good.” To start with, that is one of the few assault rifles that use semi-automatic shutter. This scheme is considered more sensitive to contamination and as cartridges compared to systems with a gas engine. The only except FAMAS widespread rifle with semi gate was the German HK G3, taken from the arms of the Bundeswehr in 1997. When choosing a new machine for its security forces German military officials gave preference to the sample with a gas engine — HK G36.

Another “fad” FAMAS sensitivity to ammunition. French machine works well with cartridges with steel case and “does not like” brass case, which are the regular ammunition of NATO. Therefore, the French formally having armed the cartridge 5 56х51 NATO for the purchase of their rifles, special ammo with steel case. Plus excessive rate of fire of the FAMAS and finally, the layout of the bullpup, the debate about which has been conducted since its inception. On the one hand, it allows to have a compact size of a submachine gun, a weapon with a fully automatic gun. On the other hand, the ergonomics of the bull-popes, with their long butt unregulated, “back” balance and are ejected from the shooter’s face. not everybody likes.



Германский автомат для Пятой республики

A soldier with a gun HK416.

Photo: militaryarms.ru


“The French have experience of using these rifles in different conditions in their expeditionary corps, — says the chief editor of the magazine “Kalashnikov” Mikhail Degtyarev. — Apparently, miracles do not occur. In independent trials in different countries, including the USSR, this sample nothing outstanding was not shown.” Proof may be the fact that French special forces and the fight against terrorism for several years actively using the German machine HK416.

Of course, history knows many examples when not the most successful system sold well in the world market. “In the end, the Americans very successfully to stuff around the world is not the most outstanding M-16 somewhere handing out free where some selling,” says Maxim Popenker. — Apparently, the French did not seek to seriously compete in the global market.”

Who will arm the French

In any case, to resume its own production machines, the French will be difficult, largely because of the paradigm of the French defense industry. The production of weapons (and Russia) are engaged in major state concerns, designed for mass production. To invest huge money in development and production of the new machine can only be hoping for huge sales. But they likely will need their own security forces, a new modern production facility will satisfy for a year or two, but the world market is very busy with new products on it enough. So the French have to choose between the Germans and the Belgians.



Германский автомат для Пятой республики

American commando c FN SCAR

Photo: U. S. Navy


Both rifles — HK416 and FN SCAR have a traditional layout, a modular design, equipped with telescopic butts, and numerous rails for mounting optical and red-dot scopes, flashlights, target designators, and other attachments. Both samples used the vapor-automatic short-stroke gas piston located above the barrel. The locking system of both rifles is also similar. Both the advantages include high accuracy and precision shooting, low recoil. It should be noted that the HK416 and FN SCAR are very expensive, and therefore are purchased mainly for special forces units.

The German machine can be called a development of the concept of the American AR-15/M16. HK416 and appeared in 2005 as an attempt of the group Heckler & Koch to enter the market of military and police weapons in the USA. Design and most units borrowed from the HK416 M16, and the main difference was the replacement of the direct gas operated system the M16 (the powder gases are discharged directly to the bolt) on a system with a gas piston, borrowed from the German rifle G36. In addition, improvements were made to the design of the bolt and a barrel with increased resource. The HK416 is in service with special forces in more than 20 countries.

The Belgian FN SCAR — this is an original design, made in the early 2000s by the order of the main Directorate of special forces, defense (USSOCOM). The hallmark of the FN SCAR is an original futuristic design and wide application of plastic design: the lower part of the receiver is made of plastic, the upper — of aluminum. Interchangeable barrels are attached to the top of the receiver and can be replaced in a few minutes. FN SCAR is used by the security forces of almost 30 countries.

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