A memorandum of understanding has been signed in Ukraine, paving a way towards license manufacturing of the M16 rifles.
Ukroboronoservis state-owned company which is a part of the Ukroboronprom Ukrainian defence facility, in collaboration with the US-based Aeroscraft company, will start to manufacture firearms in Ukraine, which would meet the Western, including NATO, standards.
M16 rifle, WAC47 model, is going to be the first of the projects pursued. Probably, instead of the 5.56×45 mm NATO, 7.62×39 mm round could be used, however this has not been officially confirmed.
In the opinion of the representatives of the Ukrainian industry, initiating a manufacturing process regarding the new models of weaponry would constitute an important element of expansion and reforms of this sector, so important for the national economy. The new weapon has been premiered for the first time six months before that, in order to initiate the production of the said rifle for the Ukrainian Army.
Aeroscraft company is also a well known manufacturer of aircraft and airships, guard posts and firearms.
Ukroboronprom SE is the main entity which remains active within the Ukrainian defence sector, dealing with import and export of products and services in the area of military and special purpose technologies. The company also owns manufacturing facilities, and carries out repairs, overhauls and modernization of the Ukrainian armament and military hardware. Its business activities are carried out in line with the ISO 9001 norm and AQAP 2000 quality assurance system.
The steps undertaken by the Ukrainian industry are quite surprising, for several reasons. First, it is not a priority for the Ukrainians to introduce a new type of firearm into the inventory, with a different set of operational principles of use. Secondly, the economic factor is of great importance here – is the army able to afford to make such step? Firearms are not a key element which would provide the Ukrainians with an advantage, within the conflict which drags on, in the Eastern part of the country.
On the other hand, we are able to witness a clear intention expressed by the industry to implement the western standards – but a question about the traditional markets, within which the Ukrainian armament was usually being sold emerges. These marketplaces are rather not interested in procurement of such solutions. A scenario in which the management of the facility does not realize that the export chances for such products are also minor, is also highly dubious. It seems that it would be better to tailor the original products to the western standards, e.g. through installation of accessories or improving the ergonomics, or customizing the weapons in order to make it possible to use the NATO standard ammunition.