A Czech weapon is the favorite
by MATTHEW MOSS
Pakistan is getting a new infantry rifle.
In late November at the IDEAS-2016 Expo in Karachi, Pakistan’s state-run arsenal Pakistan Ordnance Factories signed a letter of understanding with the Czech small arms manufacturer Česká Zbrojovka.
This suggests that Pakistan and C.Z. are about to begin negotiations for Pakistan to adopt, and eventually begin license-production of, C.Z.’s 806 BREN 2 rifle.
The Pakistani army launched a search for a new infantry rifle in November 2015. Preliminary trials took place at the beginning of 2016 with five rifles — the FN SCAR, CZ-806 BREN 2, Zastava M21, Beretta ARX-200 and Kalashnikov AK-103.
The army appears to have tentatively selected the CZ-806 BREN 2.
It’s unclear exactly which caliber the new Pakistani BREN 2 might fire, but initial reports suggested a move toward NATO’s standard 5.56-by-45-millimeter round. However, C.Z. appears to have also offered the BREN 2 chambered in 7.62-by-39-millimeter.
Pakistani troops currently carry locally-produced Heckler & Koch G3A3 battle rifles chambered in 7.62-by-51 millimeters and Kalashnikov-style Chinese Type 56s chambered in 7.62-by-39 millimeter.
If Pakistan wishes to continue the established ammunition duality, C.Z. would have to to introduce the much-mooted 7.62-by-51-millimeter battle rifle variant of the BREN.
C.Z. and the POF “declared that they will intensively negotiate a delivery of complete technology for the production of small arms,” state-owned Radio-Pakistan reported. “Mutual interest refers to gradual launching of production in Pakistan, ranging from light assembly to maximum localization of production.”
The licensing deal could be similar to the one POF struck with Heckler & Koch to indigenously produce the G3. C.Z. would provide the necessary machinery and technical guidance to first manufacture some parts and assemble parts kits and later transition into fully-local production. Pakistan will need to reequip as many as half a million troops over the coming decade.
The BREN 2 is versatile and modular enough to meet multiple operational requirements — and could simplify training if Pakistan retains both the 7.62-by-39 and 7.62-by-51 calibers. C.Z.’s rifle is also more cost-effective to manufacture than the FN SCAR or Beretta ARX-200 are — an important factor for the cash-strapped Pakistani military.
The CZ-806 BREN 2 represents a massive improvement in capability and modularity over the Pakistani army’s current Cold War-era small arms. The 806 has the benefit of being a refinement of the earlier 805 used by the Czech armed forces. In 2015 C.Z. made weight and production cost reductions by improving the 806’s manufacturing process.
Following operational feedback from the Czech army, C.Z. made a number of ergonomic improvements to the 806, adding a new folding stock and a non-reciprocating cocking handle and adjusting to the rifle’s ambidextrous controls.
Pakistan adopting the 806 would be a huge boon to C.Z. But for the deal to move forward, C.Z. will probably need to offer commercial incentives such as overseas sales to help Pakistan spread out the cost of production.