German army rifle good and bad

2015-10-14 19:26
Heckler & Koch G36

Heckler & Koch G36

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Berlin - German soldiers who have made extensive use of a military rifle lambasted in an earlier review gave it flying colours in a series of oral interviews, reported the Defence Ministry on Wednesday.

The future of the lightweight Heckler & Koch G36 automatic rifle, used by German troops abroad since 1996, looked uncertain in April, after weapons testers said the weapon could not shoot straight.

The report said that, after firing 150 rapid rounds, the G36 could not be relied on to aim at targets 200 metres away.

The damning report prompted a new review, which featured interviews with 200 soldiers who had used the weapon on overseas assignments and found no serious problems with the gun.

"The soldiers, who have experience in the field, laid to rest any reports qualifying the G36 as a dud weapon," read the ministry report.

Soldiers said they had noted no problems and that use of the weapon had never led to any soldiers being put in danger.

They praised it for being light, easy to use and not particularly susceptible to breakdown. The report noted that reliability was also seen as a particular plus-point.

This marks a sharp U-turn from the previous report, which raised many issues with overheating and aiming problems.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen responded by ordering the recall of 167 000 G36 guns by 2019.

She said on Wednesday that the new information must be reviewed before any final decision can be made.

"We are now going to analyse this, work it through quietly and then make the necessary decisions," said the minister, in a statement just months after she said the weapon had no future in the German military.

Part of the problem with assessing the weapon is that, while soldiers regularly praise it, ballistics experts have routinely given it low marks. The ministry will now decide which version to believe.

Replacing all weapons would not would not only result in financial costs for the German military; it would also be a black mark for weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch. The company has demanded a judicial review to prove the high quality of its weapon.

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