Monday, August 29, 2011

Tellermine 29

A Tellermine 29 showing the three fuzes.

The Tellermine 29 is a round metal cased German anti-tank blast landmine. It first entered service in 1929, and the initial German defence plan was to purchase 6,000 a year, but in January 1931 it was decided to speed up the purchase process and 61,418 were ordered. By 1937 with the introduction of the Tellermine 35, it was being used for training, and the majority were sent to warehouses.

The mine did see limited service during the Second World War, notably after D-Day in France where allied troops reported encountering it.

The mine uses three Z.D.Z. 29 fuzes that are normally set at an activation pressure of 125 kg, but can be set to function with a pressure of just 45 kg or even function as a tripwire fuze. The mine is fitted with two secondary fuze wells that enable the fitting of anti-handling devices.

A training version of the mine designated T.Mi.29 (Ueb) was also produced that was filled with a smoke-generating main charge and holes along the circumference to allow the smoke to escape.

A number of Yugoslavian mines copied the basic pattern of the Tellermine 29, including the TMA 3 and TMA 4.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


FN FNC rifle of late manufacture (with enlarged trigger guard)

Following the market failure of their previous 5.56mm caliber assault rifle, the CAL, famous Belgian company Fabrique Nationale began to develop the new assault rifle for 5.56mm NATO cartridge in the early 1970s. The final design, called the FNC (Fabrique Nationale Carbine) was produced circa 1978 and was consequently adopted by the Belgian Armed forces. It was also adopted by Sweden and Indonesia, and both those countries purchased the licenses to build more or less modified FNC carbines at their own facilities. Swedish version is known as Bofors AK-5 and Indonesian version is known as Pindad SS1. The FNC also was sold to some police forces around the world, and, in limited numbers for civilians - as a "Sporter" model, limited to semi-automatic mode only.

Same rifle, right side view. note the spring-loaded dust cover on the cocking handle slot

The FNC is a sound design which accumulated best features from other famous designs, such as Kalashnikov AK-47, Colt/Armalite M16, and others.

FNC is a gas operated, selective fire, magazine fed weapon.

FN FNC of earlier manufacture, with butt folded

The gas drive and rotating bolt of FNC strongly resembles the AK-47 system, but adapted for more advanced production technologies such as CNC machining and with some modifications. The long stroke gas piston is located above the barrel and is linked to the bolt carrier. Unlike the AK-47, the gas piston rod could be separated from the bolt carrier when gun is disassembled. The gas system featured two-position gas regulator (for normal or adverse conditions) and a separate gas cutoff, combined with folding rifle grenade sights. When grenade sights are raised into the ready position, the gas cutoff automatically blocks the gas supply to the action, allowing for safe launching of rifle grenades. Both gas cutoff and grenade sight are located on the gas chamber, just behind the front sight. The now common rotating bolt has two massive lugs that locks into the barrel extension.

FN FNC Para, with shorter barrel, butt folded and magazine removed

The receiver is made from two parts that are linked by two cross-pins. The receiver could be opened for disassembly and maintenance by removing the rear pin, so the parts could be hinged around the forward pin (which also can be removed to separate receiver parts). Upper receiver is made from stamped steel, the lower receiver, along with magazine housing, is made from aluminum alloy.

Barrel of the FNC is equipped with flash hider which also served as a rifle grenade launcher.

FNC is equipped with hooded post front sight and a flip-up, "L" shaped rear diopter sight with 2 settings, for 250 and 400 meter range.

The controls of the FNC consist of the 4-positions safety / mode selector switch on the left side of the receiver. Available modes are Safe, Single shot, 3-rounds bursts and Full automatic fire. The cocking handle is attached to the bolt carrier at the right side and does reciprocate with the bolt group when the gun is fired. The rear part of the cocking handle slot, cut in the upper receiver for cocking handle, is covered by the spring-loaded cover which automatically opens by the handle when it goes back and automatically closes the opening when cocking handle returns forward.

FNC is equipped with side-folding buttstock, made of steel and covered by plastic. A solid, non-folding plastic butt is available as an option. The pistol handle and the forend are made from plastic. FNC is equipped with sling swivels and can be fitted with special bayonet or with adapter for US M7 knife-bayonet. FNC can be fed from any STANAG (NATO standard) compliant magazine, and issued with 30 rounds magazines. If required, FNC could be fitted with 4X telescope sight or various IR / night vision sights.

Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: standard model 997 mm (776 mm with folded butt);"Para" model 911 mm / 680 mm
Barrel length: 449 mm (363 mm "Para" model)
Weight with empty magazine: 4.06 kg (3.81 kg "Para"model)
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds (accept all STANAG-compatible magazines)
Rate of fire: about 700 rounds per minute
Effective range: 450 meters

Monday, August 22, 2011

Teller mine - German-made antitank mine common in World War II

Various Teller mines strapped to a tree

The Teller mine was a German-made antitank mine common in World War II. With explosives sealed inside a sheet metal casing and fitted with a pressure-actuated fuze, Teller mines had a built-in carrying handle on the side. As the name suggests (Teller is the German word for dish or plate) the mines were plate-shaped. Containing little more than 5.5 kilograms of TNT and a detonation pressure of roughly 200 pounds, the Teller mine was capable of blasting the tracks off of any World War II-era tank or destroying a lightly armored vehicle. Because of its rather high operating pressure, only a vehicle or heavy object passing over the Teller mine would set it off.

Teller mines had two additional fuze wells (on the side and underneath) to enable anti-handling devices to be attached.

There were four models of Teller Mine made during World War II:
Teller Mine 43
Teller Mine 42
Teller Mine 35
Teller Mine 29

Approximately 3,622,900 of these mines were produced by Germany from 1943 to 1944.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Enfield SA-80

British soldier sights the L85A2 rifle fitted with German-made 40mm grenade launcher

The development of the SA80 (Small Arms for 1980s) system, which included two weapons - SA80 IW (Infantry Weapon) assault rifle and SA80 LSW (Light Support Weapon) light machine gun, began in the late 1960s when British army decided to develop a new rifle, which will eventually replace the venerable 7.62mm L1 SLR (British-made FNFAL rifle) in the 1980s.

When NATO trials were announced in 1977 to select a new cartridge, British state-owned Enfield Small Arms Factory developed its own small-caliber, high velocity round, which was more or less representing the US .223/5.56mm case necked down to accept 4.85mm (0.19 inch) bullet. When the cartridge came out, Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield developed a new weapon around it, initially designated as SA80-IW or XL65. This weapon, being somewhat similar in outline to the much earlier British Enfield EM-2 assault rifle, was internally quite different, and, basically, was more or less the US-made Armalite AR-18 rifle, put into bullpup stock and rechambered for 4.85mm cartridge. After NATO trials, which resulted in adoption of the Belgian SS-109 version of the 5.56mm cartridge, Enfield engineers rechambered XL65 for this cartridge and continued its development under the designation of XL70. Due to Falkland war, the new system was adopted only in 1984. Original SA80 weapons (both L85 and L86) were plagued with many problems, some being very serious. In general, L85 was quite unreliable and troublesome to handle and maintain. Finally, in the year 1997, after years of constant complaints from the troops, it had been decided to upgrade the rifles then in service.
L22A1 carbine
The upgrade program, committed in years 2000 - 2002, was completed by the famous Heckler-Koch, which was then owned by British Royal Ordnance company (German investors bought the HK back in 2002). About 200,000 rifles were upgraded into the L85A2 configuration, out of total 320,000 or so original L85A1 rifles produced. While official reports about the upgraded weapons were glowing, the initial field reports from the British troops, engaged in the Afghanistan campaign of 2002, were unsatisfactory. Most problems, however, were traced to improper care and maintenance of weapons, and for now the L82A2 performs fairy well both in Afghanistan and Iraq.
L22A2 carbine, as issued to Royal Armoured Corps tank crews in Iraq; note that it has a Picatinny rail above the front grip
Other than the basic L85A1 variant, the SA80 IW also appeared in the shortened carbine version, and in the manually operated L98A1 rifle, which got its gas system removed and a larger cocking handle attached. The L98A1 is used to train the army cadets for basic rifle handling and shooting skills, and the rifle is fired as a manually operated, straight pull magazine repeater rifle. The latest weapon in the SA80 family is the recently adopted L22 carbine, which is issued to tank crews of Royal Armoured Corps. This weapon is available in two versions, L82A1 and L82A2, the latter being fitted with additional Picatinny rail on the right side of front grip base.
Upgraded L85A2 with SUSAT sight
The current L85A2 rifles are recognized as reliable and very accurate, especially when using standard issue SUSAT telescope sights. The drawbacks ofthe L85A2 are somewhat poor balance (which can be improved with installation of HK-made 40mm underbarrel grenade launcher), right-side only extraction and rearward placement of the fire mode selector.

Technical description.

The L85 is a gas operated, magazine fed, selective fire rifle of bullpup layout.

The receiver of the L85 is made from stamped sheet steel, reinforced with welded and riveted machined steel inserts. The gas operated action has a short stroke gas piston, located above the barrel. The gas piston has its own return spring. Gas system has a three-position gas regulator, one position for a normal firing, second for a firing in adverse conditions and the third for launching the rifle grenades (gas port is shut off). The machined bolt carrier rides inside the receiver on the two parallel steel guide rods, with the single return spring placed above and between the guide rods. The typical rotating bolt has 7 lugs that locks into the steel insert in the receiver, just behind the barrel breech. The charging handle is attached to the right side of the bolt carrier, and prior to A2 upgrade caused some problems by reflecting the ejected cases back into the action, thus causing stoppages. In the L85A2 configuration the charging handle was redesigned to avoid such problems. The charging handle slot is covered by the spring-loaded dust cover. The bolt and its extractor claw also were upgraded in the L85A2, to achieve more reliable extraction of the spent cases.

The trigger / hammer assembly of the L85A1 is also typical for a modern bullpup rifle, with the long link from the trigger to the hammer unit, located in the buttstock. The hammer assembly of the L85A2 was redesigned to introduce a slight delay before the hammer release when the gun is fired in the full auto. This did not affected the cyclic rate of fire but improved the reliability and stability of the weapon during the automatic fire. The fire mode selector is located at the left side of the receiver, well behind the magazine housing, and allows for single shots of full automatic modes of fire. The cross-bolt safety button is located above the trigger.

The barrel is rifled for a NATO-standard 5.56mm ammunition, with 1:7 twist, and is fitted with a NATO-standard flash hider, which allows to launch the rifle grenades from the barrel.

The L85 is fed using NATO-standard (STANAG) magazines, similar to M16 type magazines, with the standard capacity of 30 rounds. Early L85A1 steel magazines caused a lot of trouble, as well as the magazine housing itself, which had thin walls that could be easily dented, thus blocking the magazine way. Both magazines and its housings were upgraded in the L85A2 configuration.
L85A1 rifle, with carrying handle and front sight installed instead of more common SUSAT telescope sight
The standard sighting equipment is the 4X SUSAT (Sight Unit, Small Arms, Trilux) telescope, with illuminated reticule. The SUSAT is mounted on a quick-detachable mount at the top of the receiver, and features an emergency backup open sights at its top. The SUSAT allows for an accurate fire (mostly in single shots) out to 400-500 meters. For a second-line troops an alternative sighting system is available, that consists of the removable front post sight with high base and post protection "ears", and a detachable carrying handle with built-in diopter rear sight.

The L85 can be fitted with the proprietary knife-type multipurpose bayonet. L85A2 rifles also can be fitted with 40mm under-barrel grenade launcher, using special handguard. Launcher is made in Germany by Heckler-Koch.

Enfield SA80-IW (Individual Weapon), chambered for experimental 4.85x49 ammunition

Caliber: 5.56x45 NATO
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 780 mm (709 mm in Carbine variant)
Barrel length: 518 mm (442 mm in Carbine variant)
Weight: 4.13 kg (with SUSAT optical sight and no magazine); 5 kg with SUSAT and loaded with magazine with 30 rounds of ammunition
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
Rate of fire: 650 rounds per minute
Effective range: about 500 meters (with SUSAT sights)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why China's Navy Makes Asia Nervous

Article by Time. See full article by clicking on this.

The last time the aircraft carrier once known as the Varyag generated this much concern, it was for fear it might sink. The ship was one of the Soviet Union's last naval commissions, but construction at the Black Sea shipyard of Mykolaiv was abandoned in 1992 after the U.S.S.R.'s breakup. The Varyag languished as an unfinished hulk until 1998, when a Chinese company, based in Macau and with ties to the Chinese navy, bought it from Ukraine, ostensibly to take the ship to the gambling enclave as a floating casino. Turkish officials worried that the 300-m vessel — a rusting shell without weaponry, engines or navigation equipment — would sink while crossing the Bosphorus Strait, causing an environmental headache and a hazard to navigation. So they delayed its passage for three years, only agreeing in 2001 to halt traffic on the Bosphorus to allow the symbol of Soviet decline to be tugged past the shoreside forts and luxury homes of Istanbul on its five-month journey to the Pacific.

Macau's harbor was never deep enough for the Varyag. The orphaned warship of a former superpower, with its distinct ski-jump-like bow for launching planes, wound up instead in the northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian. There, it has slowly been transformed into the first aircraft carrier of a future superpower. Now the world has a new set of concerns about the former Varyag. On Aug. 10 the newly refurbished carrier set sail from Dalian for its first sea trial. Its casino cover story long discarded, the ship will enter a wager with decidedly higher stakes: the projection of China's military power on the high seas.

The Varyag's launch comes at a fraught time. China's armed forces are modernizing — military spending has grown by an annual average of 15% since 2000 — and after a decadelong charm offensive in East and Southeast Asia, Beijing has begun taking a more aggressive stand on territorial disputes. Several factors are driving this tougher approach, including the possibility that disputed waters may have valuable energy reserves, a desire to challenge the regional influence of the U.S., the ever present influence of nationalism and a fear of looking weak before next year's leadership transition. "The Chinese attitude appears to have become substantially more assertive in character," says Clive Schofield, director of research at the University of Wollongong's Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security. "You see this across the board."

China's neighbors, particularly Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, have responded with tough talk and posturing of their own. Last year China and Japan sparred over islands in the East China Sea that Japan administers and both nations claim, known as the Diaoyu to the Chinese and the Senkaku to the Japanese. When Japan detained a Chinese trawler captain near the islands, China cried foul. Two weeks later Japan released the fisherman, who returned to a hero's welcome in China. This summer, Chinese warships passed through international waters near Okinawa, which has unsettled Tokyo. Japan's latest white paper on national defense said Chinese military modernization, increased activities in Asian waters and lack of transparency "are becoming a cause for concern in the region and within the international community."

The more contentious cockpit is the South China Sea. Its 3 million sq km are dotted by tiny islands, and many of its waters are thought to hold rich oil and natural-gas deposits. Tensions have been rising between China, which claims almost all of the South China Sea, and some of the other Asian states that assert sovereignty over parts of it. The Philippines, which says that Chinese ships have harassed its survey ships and fishing boats a half-dozen times since the spring, announced it would begin to refer to the area as the West Philippine Sea and sent its navy's flagship, the World War II — era frigate Rajah Humabon, to patrol it. Vietnam accuses Chinese vessels of deliberately cutting, twice this summer, the cables of survey ships belonging to PetroVietnam. Hanoi says it is considering a possible reinstatement of the military draft and carried out live-fire drills in June. China responded with three days of naval exercises of its own.

Surface Tension
The disputes over Asia's waters have drawn in the U.S. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the U.S. had a "national interest" in freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and offered Washington's assistance as a mediator. China responded angrily that the U.S. was seeking to "internationalize" an issue that should be resolved among neighbors. Some observers figured that Beijing would take a less antagonistic approach in 2011, having seen how regional disputes invited greater U.S. involvement. "That hasn't happened," Ian Storey, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore said in June. "In fact, tensions have risen in the past two or three months, probably to a higher level than they've been at since the end of the Cold War."

On July 20, China and ASEAN announced nonbinding guidelines on how a settlement in the South China Sea might be pursued, but the differences have hardly narrowed. Cui Tiankai, a Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, warned that the U.S. was at risk of becoming entangled in a regional conflict if it did not work to restrain other states in the region. "I believe that individual countries are actually playing with fire," he told reporters in late June. "I hope that fire will not be drawn to the United States." In mid-July, General Chen Bingde, the Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), publicly complained to his U.S. counterpart, Admiral Mike Mullen, about U.S. military spending, maritime surveillance operations near China's borders and joint exercises with Vietnam and the Philippines that he called "ill timed." Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said after a four-day visit to China that he was not convinced that Beijing's military advancements were entirely defensive in nature, and he fretted that the strife over the South China Sea "could result in some kind of escalation, some kind of miscalculation — an incident, a misunderstanding that would greatly heighten the stakes."

In such a heated environment, China's new aircraft carrier will stoke fresh fears. The ship has yet to be given a Chinese name, but some mainland netizens are calling it Shi Lang, after the 17th century Chinese admiral who conquered Taiwan. Even if Beijing eventually chooses to call the vessel something more subtle, the message to the region will be clear — China's ability to back up its territorial claims is growing.

Military analysts caution that the carrier itself is not a game changer. It is, after all, built from a scrapped 26-year-old hull. The ship may take at least five years after setting sail to become fully operational, says Richard Bitzinger, an expert on Asian militaries and a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore; even then, it may be used just for training. Once the ship begins trials, pilots will have to practice taking off and landing from a moving deck, and crews learn to handle the complexity of a vessel for which the Chinese have no experience. But, as Andrew Erickson, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, puts it, "China has to start somewhere. A newlywed couple wants a starter home, a newly rising great power wants a starter carrier." Analysts believe that as the PLA navy learns how to operate the former Varyag, China will begin building aircraft carriers from scratch — perhaps as many as four. This is the biggest significance of the vessel now being refurbished in Dalian. "It is indicative of China's intentions to break out," says Bitzinger.

For the foreseeable future, the U.S. will remain the dominant military power in Asia. It spends six times what China does on defense and has a long history of operating carriers. The U.S. commissioned its first in 1934 and now has 11 nuclear-powered flattops. Each can carry more than 80 aircraft and simultaneously launch and land several each minute. Combined with submarines, guided-missile cruisers, destroyers and supply ships, the Nimitz-class carrier group is one of the world's foremost military forces, far more powerful than anything China will be able to organize for decades.

But a straight comparison between the U.S. and China is misleading, says Erickson, "unless one envisions an all-out global conflict between the two, which fortunately remains virtually inconceivable." Instead, China is focused on blocking any effort by Taiwan to achieve full independence. China's naval development has been concentrated on what military experts call "antiaccess" or "area denial" capabilities, which would prevent the U.S. from coming to the aid of Taiwan in the event of a conflict. To that end, China has developed an intimidating array of missiles including a new "carrier killer," a long-range, land-based ballistic missile capable of hitting moving ships that General Chen first publicly acknowledged during Mullen's China trip in July.

China has also been able to focus on the projection of military power elsewhere, with cross-strait tensions easing following the election of the mainland-friendly Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan's President in 2008. Compared with the PLA navy's North Sea and East Sea fleets, the South Sea fleet "has received a major jump in attention and funding in the past several years," says Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, North East Asia project director for the International Crisis Group. "In addition to the upgrade of existing combatant vessels and submarines, we've also seen the deployment of additional military personnel, patrol ships and submarines." The biggest addition will be the aircraft carrier, which Kleine-Ahlbrandt expects will be sent to operate in the South China Sea. "American military officers tend to brush off [the Varyag] and say it's old, technically outdated, basically just a sitting target," says Storey. "I think the view in Southeast Asia is quite different. It's going send a message to Southeast Asian countries that China is serious about upholding its territorial claims in the South China Sea."

The Confidence Gap
China is playing hardball on the diplomatic front too. Beijing cut off military-to-military ties with the U.S. over arms sales to Taiwan, only resuming them in late 2010 to prepare for President Hu Jintao's state visit to the U.S. Unlike the Cold War, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to a robust set of rules and hotlines to keep an incident at sea from touching off a nuclear war, Beijing and Washington have no comparable agreement. In a recent report by the Australian-based Lowy Institute for International Policy, authors Rory Medcalf and Raoul Heinrichs list more than a dozen incidents at sea between naval forces or their proxies in the western Pacific. They note that without more communication and active confidence-building measures by all sides, increased naval activity in the area raises the risk of wider hostilities. "While the chance that such incidents will lead to major military clashes should not be overstated, the drivers — in particular China's frictions with the United States, Japan and India — are likely to persist and intensify," they write. "As the number and tempo of incidents increases, so does the likelihood that an episode will escalate to armed confrontation, diplomatic crisis or possibly even conflict."

For now, however, there isn't any particular mood of belligerence in Dalian, where the former Varyag sits dockside within view of an Ikea store and the site of a new Sam's Club. There's just a feeling that it's high time the world's most populous nation took its rightful place on the high seas. Residents recall when the carrier was towed in nearly a decade ago, a rusted shell with little obvious potential as a warship. Today they scoff at the thought that other countries should be worried. "That thing was a piece of trash that even Ukraine didn't want," says a worker at a nearby construction site. "For a nation of 1.3 billion people, it's definitely not enough. We need much more." It's that notion, and not the aircraft carrier itself, that makes the rest of the world nervous.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The LAPA FA-03 rifle was developed by Nelmo Suzano at Laboratorio de Pesquisa de Armamento Automatico(LAPA) between 1978 and 1983. This lightweight bullpup rifle features a plastic housing and an interesting double action trigger system, but very few rifles were made in mid-1980s, probably no more than 500 in total. Some of the LAPA FA-03 rifles are still used by special police forces of Brazil.

The LAPA FA-03 assault rifle is a gas operated weapon that uses conventional piston-operated system with rotating bolt locking. The most unusual thing about FA-03 is its trigger, which can be set to "double action" mode, in which rifle can be carried safely with loaded chamber and hammer in lowered position, safety disengaged. In this mode, rifle is ready to fire but it requires along and deliberate trigger pull to fire the first round (a system very popular in modern semi-automatic pistols). Otherwise this was a fairy conventional weapon, with right side only ejection and open sights (rear sight is built into carrying handle).

Caliber: 5,56x45mm NATO
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 738 mm
Barrel length: 490 mm
Weight: 3,5 kg empty
Rate of fire: 650 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 20 or 30 rounds

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Friday, August 5, 2011


The US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) issued a solicitation for the procurement of SOF Combat Assault Rifles (SCAR) on October 15th, 2003. This solicitation requested a new combat rifle, specially tailored for the current and proposed future needs of the US Special Forces, which are somewhat different from latest generic US Army requirements,which are being fulfilled by the newest Heckler-Koch XM8 assault rifle.

FN SCAR-L / Mk.16 rifle prototype (1s generation, late 2004), left side view

The key difference in basic requirements between XM8 and SCAR is that, while XM8 is a single-caliber weapon system, tailored for the 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition, the SCAR should be available in various different calibers. Initial SOF requirements included two basic versions of SCAR system - the SCAR Light (SCAR-L), available in 5.56mm NATO, and the SCAR heavy (SCAR-H), which should be initially available in significantly more powerful 7.62x51 NATO chambering, andshould be easily adaptable in the field to other chamberings. These other chamberings initially include the well-spread 7.62x39 M43 ammunition of the Soviet / Russian origins, and probably some others (like the proposed 6.8x43 Remington SPC cartridge, especially developed for US Special Forces).

FN SCAR-L / Mk.16 rifle, 2nd generation prototype, with FN EGLM 40mm grenade launcher attached
The key idea of SCAR rifle system is that it will provide the Special Forces operators with wide variety of options, from short-barreled 5.56mm SCAR-L CQC variation, tailored for urban close combat, and up to long range 7.62x51 SCAR-H Sniper variant, as well as 7.62x39 SCAR-H, which will accept "battlefield pickup" AK-47/AKM magazines with 7.62 M43 ammunition, available during the operations behind the enemy lines. Both SCAR-Land SCAR-H shall be initially available in three versions, Standard (S), Close Quarters Combat (CQC) and Sniper Variant (SV; now it is dubbed Long Barrel - LB). All these variants, regardless the caliber and exact configuration, will provide the operator with the same controls layout, same handling and maintenance procedures, and same optional equipment, such as sights,scopes, and other current and future attachments.

FN SCAR-H / Mk.17 rifle prototype in CQC (Close Quarter Combat,short barrel) configuration,7.62x51 mm NATO version
Late in 2004 USSOCOM announced, that the winner for the initial SCAR contracts is the FN USA, an US-based subsidiary of the famous Belgian company Fabrique Nationale Herstal. Prototype rifles were manufactured by FN Manufacturing Inc, US-based subsidiary to FN Herstal; This company will also handle series production of rifles. Starting mid-2005, first SCAR rifles went to end users in US Special Operation Forces. Since USSOCOM uses Navy-type "mark" designations, SCAR rifles were officially designated as 5.56mm Rifle Mark 16 (SCAR-L / Light) and 7.62mm Rifle Mark 17 (SCAR-H/ Heavy). It is believed that Mk.16 and Mk.17 rifles will gradually replace most rifle systems now in service with US SOCOM forces, such as M4 carbines, M16 rifles, M14 rifles and Mk. 25 sniper rifles.

FN SCAR-L / Mk.16 rifle partially disassembled; note additional quick-detachable barrel
As it turned out, FNSCAR rifles are not based on any previous weapons but designed from scratch. In all variants FN SCAR rifles feature gas operated, short stroke piston action with rotating bolt locking. Bolt has seven radial locking lugs that lock directly into the barrel extension.

5.56mm NATO FN SCAR-L / Mk.16 rifles of current (2007/2008) production, top to bottom in Long Barrel (LB), standard (Std) and Close Quarter Combat (CQC) configurations
Receiver is made from two parts, upper and lower, connected with two cross-pins. Upper part is made from extruded aluminium, lower part is made from polymer. SCAR-L and SCAR-H use similar upper receivers that differ only in the size of ejection port. Other different parts include caliber-specific bolt, barrel, and lower receiver with integral magazine housing. Parts commonality between SCAR-L and SCAR-H is astonishing 90%. Barrels are quick-detachable, and held in the upper receiver with two cross-bolts. Barrel change procedure requires minimum amount of tools, takes just several minutes and there is no need to adjust the headspace after the change.

7.62mm NATO FN SCAR-H / Mk.17 rifles of current (2007/2008) production, top to bottom in Long Barrel (LB), standard (Std) and Close Quarter Combat (CQC) configurations
The trigger unit with ambidextrous safety-fire mode selectors witch allows for single shots and full automatic fire, with no provisions for limited-length bursts mode. The charging handle could be easily installed on either side of the weapon, so the upper receiver has respective cuts on both sides. Top of the upper receiver is covered by the full-length integral Picatinny rail (MIL-STD 1913); additional Picatinny rails are mounted on both sides and under the free-floating handguards. Side-folding polymer buttstock is adjustable for length of pull, and is shaped to provide positive cheek rest with adjustable cheek support. SCAR rifles are fitted with removable, adjustable iron sights, with folding diopter-type rear sight on the receiver rail, and folding frontsight onthe gas block. Any additional type of sighting equipment, necessary for current tasks, including telescope and night sights, can be installed using MIL-STD 1913 compatible mounts.

Mk.16 SCAR-L rifle will use improved M16-type magazines, made of steel; Mk.17 SCAR-H will use proprietary 20-round magazines in 7.62x51 NATO chambering, or standard AK-type magazines in proposed 7.62x39 M43 chambering. Current prototypes of SCAR rifles do not have bayonet mounts,and, probably, will never have one.

Mk.16SCAR-L (Light) Mk.17 SCAR-H (Heavy)
Caliber 5.56x45 NATO 7.62x51NATO basic
7.62x39 M43 and others additionally
Overalllength, standard configuration 850 mm(max) / 620 mm (min) 997 mm (max) / 770 mm (min)
Barrellength 254mm/10" (CQC), 355mm/14" (Std), 457mm/18" (LB) 330mm/13"(CQC), 406mm/16" (Std), 508mm/20" (LB)
Weight 3.5kg empty 3.86 kg empty
Rate of fire 600rounds per minute 600 rounds per minute
Magazinecapacity 30 rounds standard 20rounds (7.62x51 NATO)
30 rounds (7.62x39 M43)

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