ABOVE: A representative from Kodiklatad Polytechnic demonstrates the Indonesian version of the “Corner Shot” device, here equipped with a Glock 19 handgun. This is the manual version, using a pump to switch the angle of the toggle mount left, right or center. Also note the bipods.
Biennial Expo Highlights Southeast Asia’s Small Arms Manufacturing
The biennial defense exposition Indo Defence 2018 was held this year in Jakarta and has much to offer readers in terms of some of the latest military small arm developments outside the United States. Being one of the largest expositions of its variety in the Southeast Asian region, the show was certainly one that Small Arms Review wasn’t going to miss covering. Companies from all over the world came to attend the show, many vying at possible contacts or solicitations among the Indonesian military. Lasting for several days with the final day open to general public access, the exposition was set up by country in order of booths. It was spread over two enormous convention halls (a third smaller hall) and the open ground in between them for vehicle displays. In addition to the displays there were vehicle demonstrations that took place, showcasing their tactical capabilities while in operation.
Upgrades from Turkey
Representing Turkey at the show was the state-owned MKE enterprise, privately-owned Kale Kalip and ATA Arms. MKE was displaying some of the latest additions to the Turkish Armed Forces arsenal with the manually operated Bora-12 Precision rifle and the self-loading KNT-76 Designated Marksman rifle, both in 7.62x51mm NATO. These will be seeing service by Turkish soldiers in upcoming months. The KNT-76 is simply a designated marksman’s variant of the MPT-76 service rifle, allowing the Turkish infantry to have a precision rifle at the squad or platoon level capable of rapid precision fire without the need to learn a new weapon system.
The other half of the MPT-76 story is of course with Kale Kalip, one of the three manufacturers of the service rifle and also present at Indo Defence. Apart from the MPT-76 Kale Kalip had its 5.56x45mm variants on display, one of them being a compact variant with a sub-8-inch barrel. But new from them this year was licensed production of Accuracy International AX50 anti-materiel rifles.
However, the biggest news from Turkey came from the small and nimble ATA Arms with a recent contract to supply the Turkish Armed Forces with 8,000 units of their BA40 Low-Velocity 40x46mm under barrel/standalone grenade launcher. This was on display at the ATA Arms booth along with a number of commercial shotguns and rifles that the company is submitting to the ATF in order to be imported into the United States for sale on the civilian market.
Profense’s 5.56x45mm Miniguns
Breaking into the M134 Minigun market for some time now is the Arizona-based company Profense with their own take on the venerable design. However, this year along with AUSA 2018 the company turned some heads with their 5.56x45mm variant of the Minigun, specifically designed for special operations requirements and built on a client’s request. Readers will probably remember the 5.56x45mm XM214 Minigun variant from the Vietnam War era and some of the reasons why it wasn’t accepted for service. Coming full circle today, a 5.56x45mm Minigun is seen by some as being viable for certain applications, especially in terms of greater mobility through weight reduction.
Vietnam’s Entry into Small Arms Production
Probably one of the biggest head turners at the show was Vietnam’s entry into small arms production as evidenced by the Vietnam Defense Industry’s spectacular booth display of all of the models currently being manufactured. This will make Vietnam the fifth Southeast Asian country to have successfully established small arms manufacturing (Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand). Recently entering into licensing agreements with Israel for the manufacture of Galil ACE rifles, Vietnam is slowly replacing Cold War-era designs with locally produced variants among its Armed Forces. But Galil ACE variants aren’t the only item being produced or assembled in Vietnam. Derivatives of the Lee Enfield, M79 grenade launcher, OSV-96s, Soviet handguns and even a helical magazine-fed 9x19mm PP-19 Bizon submachine gun are but a few of the other small arms being produced and assembled in modern day Vietnam. Some of the small arms on display might have a chance at being imported into the United States for the civilian market, such as the manually repeating Lee Enfield variants that were on display.
Indonesian Design and Manufacture
Of course, what would an Indonesian defence exposition be without indigenous Indonesian products? Representing the Indonesian state arms manufacturing arm was PT Pindad with their booth close to the entrance of the fair. There were a number of upgraded and improved models available from Pindad this year. The 7.62x51mm SS3 rifles were shown in newer configurations, essentially being upgraded models of their smaller 5.56x45mm variants. Versions of the standard 5.56x45mm rifles were displayed with upgrades such as Magpul and Trijicon add-ons and accessories. A new submachine gun was displayed, the 9x19mm PM-3. The compact piece takes MP5 magazines, incorporates a folding stock and is reportedly to be used by Indonesian Counter-Terror forces.
In the belt-fed arena was the presence of a .50 BMG STK 50MG Heavy Machine Gun, in cooperation with Singapore’s ST Kinetics, designated SM5 by Pindad. The dual belt-fed machine guns were displayed at the Pindad booth for the first time but haven’t been seen in service with the Indonesian military yet. Close by were newly introduced, manually operated precision rifles being produced by Pindad with variants chambered in .50 BMG, .338 Lapua and 7.62x51mm NATO.
Separate from Pindad was the Indonesian Army’s Kodiklatad Polytechnic research and development division. The department’s booth featured locally designed and produced copies of the Israeli “Corner Shot” arm device that allows a shooter to toggle a handgun around a corner and shoot it accurately via an LCD screen attached to the “receiver” of the device. Mounted to the arm was a Glock 19 handgun, but there were other handgun designs that the arm was made to fit such as various Pindad handguns. Kodiklatad Polytechnic was displaying both manually and electronically operated versions of the toggle arm while at the show, allowing attendants to interact with it while on the show floor. Talking with Kodiklatad Polytechnic representatives, we were told that the device was created in response to Indonesian Special Forces’ requests for a domestically produced version of the original Israeli design when they encountered it in training.
British Precision Rifle Expansion
Many readers might immediately think of Accuracy International when discussing British precision rifles, but Steel Core Designs has slowly been creeping into the market with small contracts worldwide, particularly in the Middle East. During the recent fighting against the so-called Islamic State, the .50 BMG variant (Cyclone) was actually employed against rebel forces by a sniper who was a part of the Iraqi Emergency Response Brigade. Coupled with optics from the Czech company Meopta, the manually repeating, externally magazine-fed rifles are brutally simple compared to other precision rifle designs in their class. This has contributed to sales in the Middle East due to the lack of complex components where fine sand could find its way. New for the show was the Hurricane SF in 7.62x51mm NATO, a variant of an earlier line of rifles that Steel Core Designs had introduced.