IDEF 2015: Azerbaijan displays firearm developments
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The Ministry of Defence Industry of Azerbaijan (MODAR) debuted a wide range of new firearms at the IDEF defence exhibition in Istanbul. These included: EM-14 5.56 mm assault rifle, 7.62 mm Yirtiji semi-automatic sniper rifle, and the 40 mm RBG/M11 revolver grenade launcher.
The EM-14 is a derivative of the Khazri rifle that has been built in Azerbaijan since MODAR purchased a license from Izhmash in 2011 to locally build a modified version of the 5.45 mm AK-74M. Compared with the earlier Khazri, the EM-14 is equipped with a longer forearm with a MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail and an M4-type telescopic buttstock. Most significantly though, the new rifle is chambered in the NATO 5.56×45 mm cartridge rather than the Russian 5.45×39 mm cartridge.
Serial production of the EM-14 is planned to start in 2016. While now the rifle has been designed for export, MODAR representatives confirmed to IHS Jane’s that the Azerbaijani armed forces are planning to switch to NATO standard calibres in the future.
Azerbaijan has also tested and manufactured a new line of translucent polymer 30-round magazines for the AK-74 and AK/AKM to assure Azerbaijani self-reliance in this field.
Since MODAR was founded the organisation has focused on sniper rifles. The first weapon designed in Azerbaijan was the semi-automatic Istigal anti-materiel rifle chambered in 14.5×114 mm. This has now been followed by modernised Istigal-T variant, making its debut at IDEF with a reduced weight of 28 kg. Serial production of a 12.7×108 mm version of Istigal, known as Mubariz, is expected to begin serial production at the turn of 2015/16.
A new 7.62x54R mm semi-automatic sniper rifle called Yirtiji was also shown for the first time at IDEF. The rifle, intended to replace the Russian SVD rifle, is currently undergoing military trials. The weapon features a 620 mm barrel, weighs 6 kg, and is fed from a 10-round Dragunov steel magazine. The Yirtiji rifle features a M16-style bolt catch lever and is ambidextrous. Safety switches are located on both sides of receiver, while the shooter can switch the position of the charging handle from left to right.
Company officials state that the Azerbaijani defence industry has already manufactured 100 Yalguzag bolt-action sniper rifles for its armed forces. The Yalguzag is chambered in the 7.62×51 mm NATO calibre, not the Russian 7.62x54R mm widely used in Azerbaijan before. Officials added that the Turkish General Directorate of Security (EGM) has ordered 350 Azerbaijan made RPG-7V2 ‘Gaya’ rocket-propelled grenade launchers. A contract was signed with Iraq for 500 RPG-7s and 500 grenade launchers.